The reality of working from home goes beyond business collaboration adjustments and the technical and workspace setup. The people who share your workspace also need to adjust to your new working arrangement. Suddenly working from home can inadvertently cause friction, aggravation, and even embarrassment during the workday. The best way to manage these situations is to get ahead of them and have an open, two-way conversation about needs and expectations.
This is a sample conversation that can be adapted for your specific situation. While it might not directly apply to your situation, it is a great starting point when speaking to someone about working from home.
Hi Sweetheart, I wanted to talk to you for a few minutes regarding my transition to working from home. This will be a change from our normal routine and one that I am excited about as there are some great opportunities that working from home can offer. For example, I look forward to eating lunch with you every day and going to the gym before it gets too late.
However, with all things new, we’ll need to work through some adjustments. At first, it might be difficult to see me physically at home, but mentally at work. That is because my manager has laid out very specific goals and expectations for me during this time. I want to share these items with you as I believe it is important for you to know what is expected of me even though I am not in the main office.
[Share goals / expectations that are outlined by manager / organization]
As a result of these goals, I think it is important that I share some guiding principles that will help prevent some common issues that come up when people like me work remotely:
Since this is a temporary situation, I believe I can work at the desk in our bedroom. However, since I am expected to be online by 7:30 to start managing the peak flow of phone calls, I will need to be alone in the room. This does not mean that it is off-limits, but access might need be limited.
I will commit to posting a list of my calendar appointments for the day. While this could change at any point during the day, it should be stable. Maybe, when we are eating breakfast or drinking our coffee in the morning, we can discuss our schedules and plan out lunch for the day.
The “Do Not Disturb” Sign
If I have the door closed, it means that I cannot be disturbed. If there is an emergency, please text me to see if it is okay to enter. If I do not respond, I might be involved in a meeting requiring my full attention. I will respond as soon as I am finished.
Watching the Kids
Since we are both working from home right now, we will need to consider who will watch our children during the workday. In addition to reviewing our schedule each day, it might be a good idea for us to plan out shifts for when each person can keep an eye on our children around any focused work meetings and ensure one of us is always available.
If issues arise, let’s plan to work through them together. This will be different for both of us, so I want to make sure we keep an open dialogue. I know we’ll need to make some adjustments as we go along, but I am hoping these principles will help keep our household happy as we adapt to this change.
Suggest Regular Meetings with People at Home
Do not let things build up to a highter conflict. Set aside a regular interval of discussing how things are going, what is working well, what needs improvement.