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5 Ways To Navigate Relationships At Work (Especially If You’re Working From Home)
Kathryn Brown Ramsperger -- Author & Intuitive Life Coach(R) Kathryn Brown Ramsperger -- Author & Intuitive Life Coach(R)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Rockville, MD
Monday, November 2, 2020


Home sweet home. It’s difficult enough bringing home into the workplace, but bringing work into the “homeplace” creates challenges of its own. These challenges can become overwhelming if not identified and addressed. The Covid-19 pandemic presented a new way of doing things, from shopping, business, pleasure, schooling, work life, homelife—and perhaps most significantly, relationships. The whole dynamic of home and career, family and job has changed forever. Here are 5 ways to navigate relationships at work, especially if you’re working from home.

Discuss expectations and boundaries.

Your company may be new to doing business remotely, or it might be new to your immediate boss and co-workers. If so, remember that success will depend in large part upon teamwork. Coming up with a good plan will involve everyone knowing their key roles and responsibilities. It’s important to have this discussion early on, but even if you’ve been working remotely for months now, it isn’t too late.

Set clearly defined expectations and boundaries. Ask questions. Does your work need to be completed on the same schedule you had when commuting? Can it be spread over more hours to accommodate meals and home responsibilities? Do your co-workers know they cannot call you at 10:00 PM to ask work-related questions that can wait until official business hours? Whatever situation may arise, be clear about how it should be handled.

Practice flexible and understanding.

You might be single and living alone, while a co-worker on your team has a baby and three school-age children at home. Or it could be your boss has a spouse and two cats and you are the one with a full house. In any case, now that your whole team is working remotely, the dynamics have changed. Things went from in-person interaction in professional surroundings to opening up your private living space to the eyes and ears of co-workers.

Do the best you can to be understanding when you hear your boss’s toddler having a meltdown in the background or a dog barking incessantly, or whatever other distractions might arise. You may need to make accommodations for that. Perhaps try turning down the volume on your headset. Ask the other person (nicely) to mute their speaker when they aren’t talking, or practicing meditation to calm your nerves.

If it’s your own child having the meltdown, do what you can to minimize the chaos. And be kind to yourself. This is real life under less-than-ideal conditions and you can only deal with the reality of it by adapting as best as possible.

Be realistic about interruptions and demands. 

Expect your mother or best friend to call or for the doorbell to ring just as you start on your month-end report. Expect your kids to get into an argument over toys or the TV remote when you’re on a conference call. And don’t be surprised if your spouse or partner strolls by in their skivvies when you’ve got your boss on Skype. Stuff happens. Yet, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

Set yourself up for success by taking these possibilities into consideration. Place your desk or computer at such an angle that if you’re on a video call the camera only shows you and a wall or room divider behind you. Keep your phone on mute when you’re not actively speaking on a group call. Make rules for your spouse, roommate, or children to follow when you are officially “at work.” Finally, take regular breaks to give your family attention or to take care of your own needs.

Set up work zones and play zones.

Going from the boardroom to the bedroom is a bad idea. If at all possible, do not turn your bedroom into your workspace, especially if you have to conduct business on Zoom or another teleconferencing platform. This also means not working in your pajamas and bunny slippers. Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a four-bedroom house, it’s important to delineate between work space and play space.

Designate a specific area in your home for work. A corner, a special desk, a counter, a room, or a table on the deck or patio can be set aside for getting your work done. Leave the bedroom for sleeping, the sofa for relaxing, and the dining room table for eating meals. If you have children, assign a play area for fun and games and somewhere else for study and school work. Try to separate business from home life where possible.

Focus on the positive.

When the homeplace becomes the workplace, both advantages and disadvantages quickly become apparent. Working from home saves time and money when not doing the daily commute. You’re not eating out as much or spending a small fortune on lattes. That “annoying co-worker” isn’t sharing a cubicle with you, and the boss isn’t constantly looking over your shoulder. You have more time to spend with your loved ones.

On the other hand, according to an article in USA Today, a survey of professionals found that 51% of respondents “feel lonely working from home, with 20% feeling lonely all or most of the time. Roughly two-thirds say their primary source of human interaction right now is their immediate family.”

The isolation of working from home can be especially intense for people living alone. This not affects work relationships, but relationships with family and friends as well. Consider a virtual happy hour with co-workers on Friday nights. Schedule a teleconference to play trivia games or socialize. Create and plan fun activities with spouse, partner, or children, such as bike rides, walks, board games, or reading engaging books together aloud. Despite the drawbacks of working from home—especially if it’s new to you—it can be a time for greater productivity and personal growth.

Maintaining connection with others is crucial to your mental and emotional health. Although navigating relationships in light of “social distancing” is a challenge, it’s not impossible when you communicate openly, adapt to change, and exercise compassion toward yourself and those around you.

Having challenges with a relationship at work? Feeling lonely working from home? Want more tips on finding or changing careers? Contact me for a free 20-minute get-to-know-me session. Or visit my blog and subscribe for regular updates on career, communication, creativity, writing, and relationships of all kinds.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Kathryn Brown Ramsperger
Title: Author & Coach
Group: Ground One LLC
Dateline: North Bethesda, MD United States
Direct Phone: 301-503-5150
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