How to Share a Home Office Without Risking Your Marriage

Home Office Without Risking Your Marriage

With more and more Americans working from home — at least part time — finding space to dedicate to your job or business is often challenging. And when both spouses need a dedicated work environment at home, sharing may be the only option.

Agree on Shared and Individual Items

First off, write down a list of the major elements in your potential office. Depending on your type of work, this may include a desk and chair for each person, filing cabinets, printer, storage space, landline telephones, headsets, computers, and a casual seating area. Some of these items — like a printer or storage areas — can be shared with little conflict. But trying to share too much can cause tension.

Items that one spouse uses regularly to do work, such as headsets or their desk area, should be reserved for use just by that one person wherever possible. If you do have to share certain things — such as file cabinets — create a schedule or delineate a fair system for physically dividing the area.

Choose a Neutral Scheme

When sharing a space, you likely want to tone down the customization so that everyone can enjoy working in the area.

You don't need to be boring, but you may want to stay away from such choices as overly feminizing an office or making it aggressively masculine. Avoid filling it with one person's personal memorabilia or taste in artwork. Go furniture and decor shopping together so you can get an honest opinion from both parties.

Decide on Office Rules

  • Before moving into your shared office, agree on a few office rules. This could include things such as these:
  • Whether you can use the office in turns instead of at the same time
  • How to handle private phone calls
  • Who will perform maintenance or troubleshooting on shared devices
  • How you'll agree on office changes
  • What are the "work hours" for each person
  • Whether there are any "hands off" areas of your desk
  • Even if you've lived together for a while, working side-by-side adds a new dimension to your relationship. Spelling out some expectations and ground rules can only help the transition become smoother.

Design for Less Distraction

When choosing the furniture layout, consider how to create separate work zones for each spouse. This is often tricky when the home office isn't as big as you'd like, but it's a smart move to avoid distraction and any tension.

How can you do this? Rather than place two desks facing each other, for instance, arrange them so that the spouses are not facing directly at or directly away from their partner. Also, avoid putting shared items in a spot where one person has to invade the work area of the other, opting for a location in the center or along a neutral wall. This goes for outlets and technology connections too.

Separate Home and Work

When work hours are completed, walk away from the office just as you would a traditional office. Leave tension or conflicts between the partners inside that office, avoiding the temptation to continue any work discussions that can't be held until the next day.

Similarly, try not to bring too much of your home life into the office. While you may occasionally put in a load of laundry, the more you maintain the sense that this is a regular office and you have regular work, the better.

Office Furniture Barn has a wide variety of desks, chairs, cabinets, and decor for any home office. You'll find both practical items as well as attractive options for you and your spouse. Check out our inventory today.