by Jacqueline Hall on 22 May 2020 9:41am : 105
In this new paradigm business and life as we knew it a few weeks ago is being impacted by Covid-19 and we’re socially isolating. Being under the one roof day and night as a couple in business is unavoidable. You have many more hours in each other’s company than you normally would. What can you do to survive it and each other?
Challenges and Suggested Strategies
You each have responsibility for different aspects of the business, and normally leave each other get on with it. Now your partner could be overhearing every business discussion or looking over your shoulder to see what you’re doing.
Agree not to interfere. You may disagree with how a conversation was managed. Ask permission before giving suggestions and try not to be offended if you don’t get it.
Your home has become host to your business. Under normal circumstances you might have business premises, where you may or may not share office space.
You don’t have a home office? Dedicate a specific area as a ‘business zone’ where business related discussions take place. Have your own ‘office space’ eg one of you in the kitchen the other in the living room, or spare room if you have one. If your normal is to talk business at odd times, reframe and agree times in the day – rather than evening - for such discussions.
Going out to work or to business meetings has a ritual that gets you into the right frame of mind. Working at home will provide opportunities to be distracted or have more duvet days.
Allocate specific hours of the day to performing/supporting business activities. Follow your normal routine for leaving home, get dressed at the normal time etc and wear your usual business attire – or a relaxed version of it.
Your business has been impacted by Covid-19 lock-down, and you need to develop a strategy for when unlock happens.
Think about what you want your business to be like and allow your creative juices to flow. Give breath to your crazy ideas – you’ve got the time now to explore them. Maybe you’ll have that idea that makes you wonder why you didn’t see it before.
There may be under-currents between you that have been obscured by the focus on building your business. Now forced to spend much more time together than you normally would those annoyances will be compounded and magnified.
Be honest about what these are, their causes and your part in them. Take responsibility for finding a solution. Approach resolution as an ‘Us/We’ task.
Disagreements between you, whether related to the business or personal life have much more weight when there’s only the two of you trying to work through them.
Separate, if you can ‘business’ from ‘couples’ stuff. Use for example, the Force Field analysis approach to understand the pushes and pulls for your own stance. Share these with your partner. Be open to new ideas. Speak with outside counsel – a trusted friend, counsellor, or coach for example.
Everyone is dealing with the stress of this season to varying degrees. Your capacity for and management of it is different from that of your life and business partner. This can make understanding them a difficult thing to do.
Agree a safe space where either of you can be left alone to deal with it in your own way. Appreciate that you can’t control how someone else deals with stress, but you do so something that allows some form of respite.
Being cooped up in your home which has now become your workplace rather than sanctuary from work makes it harder to switch off.
Have ‘ME’ (My Escape) time. Take a break from each other by getting in your walk, run, bike ride, dog walking – whatever it is that counts as your one hour of exercise. Seeing different scenery – whilst keeping social distance - will have positive effect on your wellbeing. Keep the evenings business-free and resist the temptation to do just one more business-related task; you know they always take more time that you anticipated.
This season will end. Try to come out of it together and stronger.
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