Help Your Family Adapt to Your Home-Based Work

Help Your Family Adapt to Your Home-Based Work

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By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer


Thinking of joining the more than 1.1 million Canadians who work from home? They amount to 7% of our country's workforce. Not all of them live in the presence of family. But for those that do, there are considerations beyond the usual challenges.
 
Gaining the cooperation of your spouse or partner and children is crucial. Otherwise you’ll be working against your family, not with them.
 
It’s truly a give and take process. Establish a manageable balance and everyone will benefit.
 
Gaining Initial Agreement
If your family is used to you not being around during the workday, you can bet they’ll need to adjust. They’re accustomed to your being available when nearby.
 
A shift to home employment will impact these. It’s sensible to get your family’s buy-in before they start seeing you, mid-day, dressed in pajamas but speaking to clients on mobile.
 
Point out how your new routine will benefit the family as a whole. However be honest when discussing how each person will be affected. Raise the fact that your privacy is important during the work hours you set. And reassure them you’ll make yourself available after work for family commitments (or simply for snuggling).
 
Establishing New Routines
Who drives the kids to school? Which one of the adults gets to use the car during office hours? How will the kids get to and from their after-school activities?
 
You may already have customary agreements on who does what when. If these need revising, trade-offs will have to be made. Be prepared to switch tasks and make some compromises. Schedule domestic tasks in your daily calendar the same way you’d schedule a business meeting. Home-based work should accommodate everyone’s needs.
 
As for lightening your load, carpooling frees you up several days a week from having to do the driving. Hiring a lawn care and snow removal service liberates you from these chores. The critical factors are to give yourself enough time every day to get your work done, while ensuring you carry out your fair share of family errands.
 
Setting  Boundaries
Just because you’ll be at home much of the day, doesn’t mean you’re available to family. This will take some time for them to accept. Until they do, you may get bombarded with requests for help with homework, assistance with gardening, “Two minutes only…I promise, to talk about how you’ve been ignoring me lately.”
 
If your home-based workspace is isolated (e.g. in a room with a lock on the door), you’ll have a natural barrier against interruptions. That alone won’t stop people from knocking or shouting to get your attention.
 
It’s up to you to set boundaries around when you can’t be disturbed. Something as simple as hanging a Do Not Disturb sign on your door can make a world of difference. More ongoingly, inform your family of your daily schedule, and get their agreement to respect your privacy.
 
Creating Rules For Inviting Work-Related People Over
Depending on the type of home-based work, You may need to have people visit you in your home-based office. This creates a whole new set of procedures to handle. The portions of your home these people will see must be kept neat. And you don’t want a family member strolling by wearing nothing but a towel after showering.
 
On your part, you’ll have to limit visitors to specific parts of your home. Your family should consent to staying “presentable” (or invisible) when important meetings are held there. Also to keeping noise down.
 
As for the visitor, do let them know if there are people home. That will eliminate the surprise of hearing noises or bumping into your kids unannounced. Another option is to meet a mutually convenient coffee shop, if meeting at your home just isn’t convenient.
 
Arranging Adequate Childcare
Your spouse or partner may have conflicting obligations that prevent them from caring for the kids while you work. Alternate childcare arrangements are a vital part of your scheduling.
 
For younger tots, taking them to a local sitter, or having one come to your home, keeps them looked after while you’re occupied. Encouraging school-age kids to take part in after school activities can help. Agree on rules for when friends can come over. Organizing reciprocal visits (one afternoon at your place, the others somewhere else) is a good plan.
 
Avoid being on parent duty during office hours. Even if you’re doing telework, you can’t possibly provide the level of care your children require.
 
Giving Back To Your Family
In return for your family’s support, you too must contribute something extra. Usually this is some form of availability or presence.
 
Availability is being where you’re supposed to be when needed. It could be at a performance of your child’s school play. Or picking up your partner from the bus station at the end of their day.
 
Presence is all about paying attention to your family. This may mean locking away your mobile phone, tablet and laptop after work hours. The fewer distractions the better.
 
Through this give and take an acceptable balance will emerge. In the end all of you will be saying “There’s no place like home (offices).”