6 Ways to Integrate Remote Work and Home Life

How do you draw a line between work and home when your living room is also your workplace?

In my last post I offered five principles for reframing the way you think about work and home — including the important idea that you can aim for work-life integration rather than work-life balance. Here are 6 tactics for putting that into practice:

1. Ask for help

Look for opportunities to engage your kids, partner, friends or roommates in your working life. (Just take care not to violate any confidentiality agreements!) Maybe your kids can help illustrate your PowerPoint decks, earn extra allowance with a tedious data entry task, or give you a young person’s perspective on a new product or marketing campaign. Perhaps your spouse or bestie is game to be a sounding board for your latest work dilemma, or even roll up their sleeves to edit your latest report.

Engaging the people you love in your work tasks is a great way of helping them understand what your work is all about. That not only strengthens your relationship, but also brings a fresh perspective to your work. And if it’s a really great fit, and they’re contributing significantly to your work, make sure to compensate them for their time.

2. Embrace multitasking

When you’re jotting down your professional and personal chores, look for low-engagement tasks that you can combine with the other side of your existence.

For example, maybe you want to save your timesheets and email cleanups for the late-afternoon window when your kids get their after-school video game time; you can putter away on your computer while hanging out together. Or maybe you want to save the dreaded kitchen cleanup for the calls when you don’t need to be on video; you can listen in on a meeting while you do the dishes. Concerned about the bad reputation multitasking has? In Chapter 6 of Remote, Inc. we address this and advocate for a form of multitasking that works.

3. Share your personal life

In the old world of the traditional office, many of us limited access to intimate details: Other than a family photo and an annual spousal appearance at the office Christmas party, our personal lives may have stayed largely invisible.

Now we’ve got the opposite challenge, with kids and dogs and household chaos making cameo appearances in our business calls. Instead of fighting it, embrace the opportunity to share your whole self (or at least, larger portions of your whole self!) with your colleagues.

Getting to see one another as whole human beings can actually build trust and strengthen your ability to work together effectively.

4. Friend your colleagues (carefully)

One way to build that kind of transparency with your colleagues: Social media. Friending some of your colleagues on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social networks means you’ll develop a stronger sense of each other’s interests and personal lives.

Depending on which social networks you use, this doesn’t have to be all or nothing: Maybe you keep Instagram off-limits to work acquaintances, but connect with them on Twitter; maybe you friend your colleagues on Facebook, but put them on a “restricted” list so that they only see posts you choose to make public.

5. Choose a joint project

If your working life includes activities that are focused on your own professional development, consider finding an activity you can jointly undertake with your spouse, family or friends. When you’re enrolling in an online course to learn a new technical skill, ask your teen or sweetie if they want to learn it, too. If you’re launching a blog or podcast that will help build your professional reputation or relationships, consider recruiting a friend or family members as a co-author or co-host: This is a great way to spend more time with them.

6. Co-work with your loved ones

Sometimes we get so consumed by the friction of working side-by-side with our roommates and family members that we forget there can be an up side to that, too. Consider carving out days (or even specific hours) when you deliberately co-locate with your partner or friend, so that you can enjoy a little company while you each do your separate work. You can even co-work with a friend during lockdown, if you set up an outdoor workspace that keeps you a safe, permitted distance apart. Just be sure to reach an up-front agreement about interruptions: You may want to save your visiting for the end of your co-working time, or agree to take an hourly break for a few minutes of chitchat.

Of course, sometimes the solution to work-life harmony isn’t about integration: It’s about setting firm boundaries. In my next post, I share 6 tactics for separating work and home when you’re working remotely.

Author, Remote Inc: How To Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are. Tech speaker. Writer & data journalist for Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review & more.

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