The question of where work-life ends and home-life begins took on new meaning when COVID-19 forced people to work from home while simultaneously caring for children whose schools and daycare centers shut down.
But as people struggle to balance the two, they may find there are more similarities between work and home than they realized, says Marsha Friedman, an entrepreneur, wife, mother of four, and founder and president of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), a national PR firm.
“I’ve always felt that running a business and running a household have a lot in common,” says Friedman, who is also the ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage.
“It’s become even more apparent now that we are running our businesses from our households. In both situations you have budgeting, planning, and one-on-one sessions to discuss challenges you are facing.”
Friedman says being willing to rethink roles is important for working couples raising families under the current situation where the home temporarily has become the office.
“Suddenly, you are managing both your work and your personal life in ways you did not have to before,” she says.
Friedman says one way for couples to bring better balance to their lives is to apply some workplace strategies to the home, both during this crisis, and once it’s over. She suggests:
Consider your division of labor. At work, people are assigned specific jobs and responsibilities based on the needs of the business. The same is true in the household, Friedman says. Jobs around the house need to be delegated, just as they are in an office. Prioritize what tasks must be done, she says, and decide who takes on each responsibility, whether it’s the wife, the husband or the children.
Be thoughtful about the way you delegate those jobs. “In business, my philosophy is matching up the interests and skills of the person to the needs of the company,” Friedman says. “You can do the same with household chores.” One spouse might enjoy cooking; the other might like shopping. Consider whether one person is better skilled at a certain task or brings more passion to it.
Understand and appreciate each person’s role. In business, you interact with other employees and attend team meetings, which gives you insight into the scope of other people’s jobs and an appreciation for what they do. That can happen at home as well. “Even these days, in many families the spouse at work in an office doesn’t always see everything that’s involved in running a household,” Friedman says. “This stay-at-home period has allowed them to see what happens at home when they are away. This can add a lot to the quality of the relationship.”
Eventually, most people will ease back into some form of their old life, where once again there’s physical separation between work and home. When that happens, don’t forfeit the progress you made improving that work-life-home-life balance, Friedman says.
“If you made this work during the pandemic,” she says, “you don’t want to lose the ground you gained in your relationship.”