Working remotely with family

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

The most common concern that I am getting from those I know right now is managing working from home when everyone else is at home too. Most families have two people working from home and they are also balancing their kid's schooling from home. Even if all of this is temporary, it’s a lot to juggle to get right.

Below are some ideas on how to manage everyone working at home at the same time:

1. Talk through your schedule. Yep, just like doing a team plan. Each week sit down with the other adults and kids and talk through the important things everyone needs to know. What time does everyone need to start their day, who is on video calls when what major deadlines are due and when to schedule gathering where you can all take a break together. Put it on a calendar so everyone can view it whether it’s online or printed. You are bound to be more respectful of others if you know what’s happening when.

2. Build-in break times. This works really well when you have children in the house. If your kids know that you will be taking a break at 10:30 or eating lunch with them at noon, they are less likely to keep popping in unannounced asking if they talk or have you do something. Taking breaks also makes you more productive, so if everyone can hold to the break schedule, then tasks are done on time AND you still got to have some family connection.

3. Create separate workspaces. I know this might be difficult if you are in a small home or apartment, but having a spot where you know you will be working and where things can be left for the next day is important. It might mean you will need to be creative in tight spaces or that things aren’t perfect. All that matters is that each person has a comfortable place to work. Also, don’t forget proximity to plugs or providing extension cords so everything can be plugged in where it’s needed.

4. Make some rules or create boundaries. Boundaries are important. They allow everyone to effectively get their work done. For example, when the door is shut or if you are talking, then you shouldn’t be disturbed. You don’t need a bunch of different rules, just one or two to help reduce distractions and interruptions.

5. Honor your own rules and boundaries. If you said you were going to be at your desk by 8 am every morning, so you can take a break at noon then follow through. There’s no point in creating a plan so the whole house is productive if you aren’t going to follow it.

6. Be mindful of noise. This is a hard one when everyone is talking at the same time. If you know ahead of time that you have competing calls, then you can plan to make sure you are well enough apart to not disturb each other. It’s also a good idea to invest in noise-canceling headphones. Not only to avoid disruptions from within the house but from anything going on outside. Que the neighbor who’s decided he has nothing better to do than mow the lawn at 10 am on a Tuesday.

All in all, if you can work together to create a plan so everyone is productive then the chances that will happen are greatly increased. Wasting time on being angry or upset because you can’t get work done doesn’t benefit anyone. Bring everyone together so each of you are successful.