Working from home seems like a great way to earn a living on your own terms, right? It can be! But if you’re in a relationship this can have a great deal of impact on your significant other- especially if you live together.
Here are 5 ways that I’ve learned that working from home can affect your relationship (and possibly your work life as well)!
- Your schedule can be very erratic.
Working from home can be fickle at times, especially if you end up taking up a lot of smaller jobs versus a straightforward hourly one. You also might end up landing the perfect opportunity but realize that the company that is interested in you is halfway across the world, leaving you battling time zones.
There was a time where I was working an entirely unreasonable schedule for a long period of time. Since I was based in South Africa there was a 6-7 hour time difference between me and the company I was working for….and they wanted me to work a ridiculous number of hours. The time difference wasn’t such an issue, but the 14-16 hour shifts often were. I also had incompatible days off with my husband all of the time. For a liberating “workstyle”, it didn’t feel too liberating.
On the flip side, if you have a more “gig heavy” workload (meaning, you just work as you get individual projects to work on) that can be a bit trickier because of its inconsistency. Communication is important- so is making “us” time for your partner and/or family.
2. You’re stuck at work all of the time.
Imagine living in your office at all times. That’s how it can feel to us remote folk!
It will be important to make sure you take time to get away from your home or the area that you’ve set up for work. I also suggest picking a space you won’t have to stare at on your day off if you have that luxury.
Unless you’re lucky and get to be a nomadic professional, chances are at some point you’re going to start resenting your workspace. Detach from it whenever you get a chance to.
3. If you’re lucky, your work is portable. Most likely isn’t the case for your partner, though.
I won’t lie. One of the biggest perks of working remotely can sometimes be a bit of a sore spot in a relationship.
While it sometimes drives me up the wall, my gig economy “workstyle” does come without certain strings attached. If it’s financially viable I do have the freedom to plug in anywhere in the world, provided there’s reliable internet available. There’s a place in Bali that I dream about staying at for a month or two so I can work remotely just steps from the beach. Then, there’s reality.
My husband works a “traditional” office job. He doesn’t have the ability to just pick up and go and I technically can. Sometimes this grates my nerves because I’d love for him to be able to travel with me. I generally don’t embrace the mobility of my work because of it. Sure, I can go solo but that would also lend more strain than it’s worth if I’m skipping around from country to country and he’s tethered to his desk. Those whose partners are equally flexible are the luckiest SOB’s out there in my opinion.
4. Finances. Need I say more?
Sometimes the work will flow in regularly and you won’t have a care in the world. But sometimes the financial stress is very tangible. I’ve seen swings between being heavily employed to being incredibly underemployed with the snap of a finger just because one day a client or employer decides to sell their company, downsize or just doesn’t the services anymore. Understandably, that can cause a lot of strain if you’re suddenly finding yourself needing to fill unexpected gaps.
Past experience has me in a more proactive mode about making sure that we’re stocked up on non-perishables and planning ahead in case we have a financial drought. Even at the time that I write this I’m facing another full-time contract ending. But aggressively setting yourself up to have a cushion for those moments where work is slight can help ease the strain it’ll otherwise cause in your relationship and home life. Make sure to work out a viable financial plan so it won’t be a catalyst for any relationship strain. Shit happens, but we can take steps to help ease the potentially inevitable.
5. Your ambition may be out of sync with your partners’….
Being self-employed/working from home/part of the gig economy successfully means you’re a different type of beast. Unless your partner is also working in a similar industry there’s a good chance the two of you might not see eye to eye on things. See, if your partner loyally goes into work and punches a clock week after week and you’re eager to build an empire a disconnect can form.
I went through this with my husband a few times because my dream was to be fully self-employed and running a business and he was a creature of habit that liked the consistency of going into his office and working for others. While that’s great and practical that can sometimes leave you at a professional crossroads.
Being home based is an incredibly challenging experience when it comes to self-discipline and that can leave a lot of us far more ambitious than others might be. Those who have “traditional” jobs might be content with that stability while we’re always reaching for more. It’s important to find some middle ground.