Creating a new company is challenging. Add in the fact that your co-founder is your significant other, and that’s an entirely new ball game.
When my boyfriend, Carlos, and I first decided to start a business together, we were met with so many questions from friends and colleagues: "How do you manage to work together, day in and day out, without driving each other crazy?" I’ll admit, finding a balance between our personal and professional lives was a learning curve. As we started on this joint venture, we quickly realized the importance of setting healthy boundaries and effective strategies to ensure the success of both our business and our relationship.
Whether you’re thinking of going into business with your significant other or you just need a better work-from-home routine together, here are some tips that proved invaluable for us:
Tips for Couples Working From Home Together
Create Separate Workspaces
This is probably the most important thing you can do when working from home with your significant other. Ideally, these spaces would be separate rooms. But if that’s not doable, even just having your own desk in a corner or a section of your living space can do wonders.
Just as you would have your own desk or room in a traditional office, having designated work areas can help you and your partner switch to “work mode” and be respectful of each other’s personal space and work time.
Follow a Structured Schedule
When it comes to working from home, maintaining a structured schedule is both challenging and essential. From designating lunch breaks to setting aside time for meetings and dinner, adhering to a routine has allowed Carlos and I to effectively manage our time, both personally and professionally. By allocating time blocks for specific activities, we reduce the risk of overextending ourselves or neglecting essential tasks.
Respect Professional Boundaries
Working from home with someone often blurs the lines between work and personal life, especially when that person is your significant other. To address this challenge, Carlos and I really focus on respecting our professional boundaries. Even though our offices are right next to each other and we could enter whenever we want, we still schedule meetings and collaboration sessions, just as we would with any other coworker. This helps us keep our work life professional, minimizing disruptions throughout the day and boosting our productivity.
Know the Difference Between Work Disagreements and Personal Disagreements
Disagreements come with the territory of starting a new company – or just business in general. But when it’s a work disagreement with someone you’re in a relationship with, that can blur the line as to who exactly you are disagreeing with – your co-founder or your significant other.
Learning to distinguish between work-related conflicts and personal relationship issues was always crucial for Carlos and I. This awareness has helped us to address challenges objectively and collaboratively without allowing them to spill over into our personal interactions when the work day is over. We knew that if we couldn’t draw a hard line in the sand with this one, then going into business for us just wasn’t an option.
Designate "No Work Talk" Time
Balancing professional and personal conversations is probably one of the biggest challenges when working with your significant other. While it's totally normal to want to discuss work-related matters, we've recognized the value of designating an “off” time for any and all work talk. By creating this boundary, Carlos and I have been able to better disconnect from work, preventing our company from feeling too consuming and ensuring that our personal relationship remains a priority.
Embracing the Journey of Joint Entrepreneurship
Building a tech startup as a couple has been one of the most rewarding experiences. That being said, it definitely calls for conscientious effort, strategic planning, and respect for boundaries. This has been an amazing learning experience, both personally and professionally. By following these tips and also figuring out what works best for your situation, you can navigate the challenges of working from home with your significant other.