Being together 24/7, dream or scream?
Break open that hand-poured grapefruit-basil-oak candle, clear your dining table, bring out your favourite comfy tee and stock up on your favourite single-origin organic coffee, because Covid-19 is at your door, and your home office Pinterest board is pleasantly becoming a reality.
Your company has been “strongly encouraged” by HR to allow flexible working hours, and you’re excited, because you’re more creative alone, and you never did like that Stella much anyway.
One day into your new comfort zone, your significant other comes home from work early and announces that he’s been ordered to self-quarantine for the next 14 days. While that may sound like a dream for many new couples, people in long-term relationships can find that a challenge. Psychologists and relationship counsellors warn that couples who spend too much time together fall into an unhealthy co-dependency which prevents them from individual growth and development of their own interests.
In today’s Covid-19 world, where work norms are already changing, what is it really like being made to face your partner for hours on end, in an enclosed space? It may be a great opportunity to remember why you fell in love with each other in the first place, and why each of you need their space and time alone (preferably at least three feet apart). But, if you need some help, here are some tips to make working 12-hour days alongside the person with whom you normally spend most of the rest of your time a little easier to cope with.
Carve out your own “office”
If you live in an apartment or house with two or more rooms, this may be easier to implement. Each of you should have your own space to call your office, where entry should be upon notice and permission. If you live in a studio or a one-bedder, call dips on your favourite nook and settle in; make it your own by creating a work space with notebooks, business cards and a coffee mug. It could be a table by the window, or the corner of the couch, having a space you can call your own will set the right headspace to buckle down and work.
Schedule break times
Work out a timetable where you can take breaks together throughout the day, talk about the challenges that you’re facing, and share work horror stories. Having these short breaks will also give you both something to look forward to and appreciate coming together.
Respect each other’s privacy
In a co-working space, you wouldn’t be so bold as to eavesdrop on your neighbour’s conversations, and the same should apply at home. Make it a point to designate a part of your home as a calling room or private corner, where you can always go to take calls and be assured that your significant other is not listening into your conversation. If there is no space in the apartment, do not be offended if your partner chooses to take the call outside the home. Respect for your partner’s privacy will go a long way, and when he/she decides to share the contents of that conversation with you, your restraint will be worth it.
It’s not a crime to flirt with your partner, and it’s okay to still feel butterflies in your stomach when you peep on him engrossed in his work.
Done for the day
When your “office hours” are over, remember to not take work “home” with you. Keep all work-related stuff away, and enjoy the couple time that you have together. A quick and easy way to do this is to have a box or storage space for your laptops and notebooks, so that they are out of sight, out of mind. This is similar to being away from the office and coming home in a regular setting and allowing yourself to let loose and be in a relaxed frame of mind. At this point, going out for a walk together may also be a good idea. Since your home has become the office, changing scenery can help revive that ‘returning to the nest’ feeling.
Just don’t make it so good that you never want to go back to the office. You know, it’s Stella’s last year.