24 Mar Our 4 Top-Tips for Peace in the Home Office:
The lockdown and the prescribed home office pose particular challenges for us living together. Some believe that we will see an increase in birth rates in nine months’ time, while others suspect an increase in separation and divorces as soon as the courts re-open. Considering that the current situation is not a romantic blackout lasting a few hours, but rather being locked up in one’s own four walls for weeks on end, the latter assumption could be quite realistic.
Most of us are currently trying to fulfil our professional duties under stricter conditions, while at the same time managing the close proximity to partners and children in the common household. The far-reaching changes in our everyday working lives have dissolved the familiar daily structure and we are required to somehow cope with this new situation.
There are numerous tips and recommendations on how to work in the home office. But the most important support for this structure is the relationship you have with the people you live with.
Here are our 4 top tips on what you can do to make them grow together and not fall apart:
- Take yourself and eachother seriously!
This means that on the one hand you should recognise your own needs, worries and fears and discuss them with your partner. On the other hand, it also means that you should take an honest interest in the needs, fears and worries of others in your household, ask about them if necessary, and take them seriously and recognise them. It shows respect and appreciation for each other if you share what is on your mind. And it helps to understand the other.
- Create clarity! Talk openly with each other instead of brooding!
Mind reading does not work. Every situation we get into contains a factual level and a level where feelings, needs, aspects of the relationship and expectations can be found. Keep these levels clear for yourself and try to understand which of these aspects dominate the current situation. It makes a difference to the relationship with your loved ones whether they think you are so irritable because work is more important to you than partnership. Or if the family learns from you that you are afraid of losing your job if you do not perform in the home office in the same way as you did in your normal everyday life before CoVid-19. To do this, however, you need to know about yourself (see point 1) and talk to your partner and share your thoughts. Let each other know what is on your mind, what you need, what you think!
- Establish Agreements
How you arrange your living together under the present conditions is also a question of joint negotiation. You all have obligations, have to work, take care of the household, learn, perform and – yes, that too: relax. How you deal with each other, working hours, personal freedom for everyone in your household, times for playing and doing housework, who looks after the children and when, who goes shopping for the grandparents… These are all things that you should openly agree with each other. And agreements usually involve compromises that you have to make in order to make living and working together possible. Negotiation can also involve conflict – but conflict indicates movement and helps to clarify positions. If everyone tries to get their own way without talking to the others about their plans and intentions, without making compromises and only looking after their own wishes, this will inevitably lead to conflict. And quarrelling is hurtful, insulting, unappreciative – no breeding ground for a sustainable relationship.
- Be reliable!
In living together it is absolutely essential to stick to agreements made. If you promise your partner that you will take over the children at 1 pm, then you should absolutely do so. Your partner and your children also plan the day and depend on the reliability of your promises. Otherwise, disputes (see above) are inevitable. And you will remain labelled as unreliable. If the agreement cannot be kept due to urgent circumstances, discuss this deviation from the plan and find a solution or compromise together. This may cause trouble, but you will remain respectful of the people you live with – and reliable.
And, yes: these tips are also helpful for times after Corona.
Our senior partner Lukas Ofner-Reßler works not only as a coach, group dynamics specialist and organizational developer, but also as a psychotherapist in training under supervision. From his work he knows that living and working together is above all a question of constructive relationship building.