Working this way is appealing to people who want to catch up on family visits they missed during the pandemic. But they can also be emotionally charged, logistically complicated, and downright exhausting. To guide you on your next trip home, here are tips for successfully working from your family home.
Set expectations for your availability
You see your trip as a way to kill two birds with one stone, combining work with the benefit of seeing your family – “bleisure”, remember? But does your family see it that way? Do they know you’re out of office but not out of office? Do they understand that you might be glued to your laptop most of the day?
Unless they already know the intricacies of your job, you can’t expect them to know what your working day will be like while you’re there. If you set expectations before your trip, you can avoid breaking your sweet dad’s heart by telling him you don’t have time to talk.
“Communicating clearly so the other person knows what to expect is very important,” says Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist who writes the “Ask Dr. Andrea” column for the Washington Post. “It’s really easy to see inconsistent expectations and say, ‘Oh, they’re not spending that much time with me because they don’t care about me.'”
This can be especially true if you’re slumped on the couch in old basketball shorts — an image that doesn’t immediately scream “get on and move.” Unless you tell them, your family won’t know you’re drowning in urgent work. Cushion the blow by communicating when you are free to spend quality time together.
My parents don’t really understand remote work and zoom calls.
They’re visiting right now and they keep burping loudly and shouting questions to each other through the house 😂 They’re also wondering why can’t I take a 2 hour break in the middle of the day to hang out??
—Madeline Pickering (@MadelinePick) September 9, 2021
Also be honest with yourself
Just as Bonior encourages remote workers to set expectations with their families, she says, people should do the same with themselves. Be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do with your grandpa’s La-Z-Boy.
“If you’re looking to automatically take over your entire work life and place it in your parents’ house with no change in productivity…that might also be unrealistic,” says Bonior.
You will be more pleasant to be around if you are not stressed by your remote work situation.
your parents’ house has everything you need except peace.
— sia✰ (@feelxhurtt) March 14, 2022
Prepare for a deluge of distractions
The void. The blender. The morbid updates on the last friend of a deceased friend of an acquaintance. The biggest obstacle to working remotely for a family member is the endless array of distractions.
It’s hard to shut out the sounds of banging pots and pans or fend off your mother’s amorous conversation starters. But if you want to meet your deadlines and keep your job, you have to find a way to deal with the noise.
To avoid interruptions, you can invest in noise-canceling headphones or hide in a makeshift bunker – a closet, perhaps? Or you can try something more creative.
Exhibit A: While my colleague Hannah Sampson was working in Florida with her parents, her mother, Linda, invented a simple but effective solution to her distraction problem.
About halfway through her daughter’s month-long stay, Linda gave her a handwritten sign that read “I have a deadline” on one side and “You can talk to me now” on the other. Both sides were decorated with smiling faces.
“For context, I worked from the kitchen island, which divides the kitchen and the TV room and is right next to the sliding glass door that leads to my father’s workshop/business”, Sampson explains. “High traffic area.”
Keep your inner teenager at bay
Full moons spawn werewolves. Your family brings out your teenage angst.
Freud argued that such regression is an unconscious defense mechanism; When you experience family stress and tension, you default to the behaviors and family dynamics you relied on in the past.
“Everyone falls back into their old patterns,” says Bonior. “You can find yourself in a situation and immediately feel like the little sister again, or you’re the ‘bad guy’ who doesn’t clean up after herself – either way, it’s very common.”
Assuming you’re no longer a teenager, you’ll want to avoid acting like one. When the toxic fire of a crisis begins to swell, Bonior says, it’s time to pause and address your feelings. Figure out what’s really bothering you before you take it out on your well-meaning parent.
If my job allows me to work remotely this summer, I might spend most of my time at my parents’ house so I can jump in the pool whenever I want 😅😂
— Moonflower 🔜 Spiral REZZ (@Nano_Aubry) March 16, 2022
“It’s really important to try to pause and not be reactive,” she says. “Get out of your own head and ask yourself, ‘Did I go too short with this person because I’m going back to being myself at 15? Or do I feel cramped and they treat me like a child? »
Instead of engaging in bad behavior, focus on calming yourself down. Bonior says you should pay attention to how your body feels. She recommends reducing physical tension — and soothing that feeling of high alert — by taking walks, taking deep breaths and stretching.
Follow a script to defuse arguments
You know what triggers your family clashes: intrusive questions, opposing political views, hidden mandates, veganism. Whatever your sticking points, says Bonior, having a script prepared can work wonders when you’re on the brink of a screaming match. Finding clear (but respectful) lines ahead of time can help you dodge conversations that ruin everyone’s evening.
“It could be something as simple as, ‘Hey, I respect your opinion and I know you respect mine. We seem to be hitting a wall here. Let’s talk about something else,'” Bonior says. script ready, you can step in with a cool head rather than let things get worse.”
Plan a good night’s sleep
You are working on East Coast time. Your parents are living their best life on the west coast. Knowing that your alarm goes off before sunrise, you need to make a plan of action to get enough sleep. Remote work – work anywhere, really – goes best if you’re fully rested.
The first step is to pick a bedtime and stick to it, even if it means popping another glass of Cab with your dad. The second step is to anticipate the obstacles that stand in the way of your sleep.
If your parents are sure to be yelling “Yellowstone” at full volume right next to your bedroom, think of ways to muffle gunshots and cowboy fights. Earplugs can be the trick, or melatonin, meditation apps, or something stronger. These can also serve as a defense against cacophonous broadcasts from your parents as well as jet lag if you work remotely in a different time zone.
Don’t treat a house like a hotel
Even though your family loves to love you like the St. Regis butlers, remember that you are a guest of the house, not a paying customer. You may benefit from family hospitality, like endless home-cooked meals or having your laundry washed and folded, but you should bring something back.
Instead of sucking all their good graces like a salaried parasite, be aware of your place in their home. Show up with a gift. Offer to take him to the grocery store. Keep your remote work setup clean and organized. Make your bed. Volunteer to cook dinner. Be nice and leave a thank you card when you leave.