Don’t Let Your Comfortable Home Become a Pressure Chamber
- Designate a home office (if you don’t have one already). If you have one room in your house that you can set aside as a home office, do it. The more you can use it exclusively as a home office (not doubling as a tv room/exercise room/etc), the better. What you want is to have a dedicated space for work where if you enter it, you know that you’re working. Taking this a step further, set up a family rule where work talk happens in the office--if you leave the office, you leave the business discussions there just like you would if you were still leaving the house to go to work. If you don’t have the space for a dedicated home office, find a way to set aside part of your house for work during work hours, even if it’s just the dining room table.
- Hold yourself to work hours. Set a work schedule for yourself, and stick to it. One benefit of working from home is that you don’t necessarily need to hold a typical 9-5 schedule, but whatever hours you set for your workday, you need to do your best to honor. If the whole family can decide on similar hours, this will help tremendously with keeping work and family time separate and keeping your boundaries intact and functional.
- Communicate, Communicate, and (over) Communicate. Now is not the time to let minor annoyances fester into unspoken resentment. While you don’t want to fall into the trap of nit-picking as a way of venting your frustration, if you have concerns about the way others are behaving, you don’t want to let that slide in a time when removing yourself from a situation simply isn’t realistic. Nor is it the time to hold unvoiced expectations of others: If you don’t let them know where they stand and how you’re expecting them to behave, the people you work/live/eat/breathe with will only disappoint you, which is not healthy for maintaining these relationships.
Some of these suggestions are seriously difficult to maintain even during “normal” life circumstances as people who own and work in family businesses. We know how hard it can be to leave work talk at the office, or to not be always available via email or phone, or to work 15 hour days. But this unprecedented situation forces us all to examine how we live and how we work, and we need to accept that maintaining family health is a high-priority business goal. We all need to push and/or restrain our behaviors in certain ways to meet this goal, whether it means reminding your business partner that we don’t “talk shop” at the dinner table, reminding a client that you aren’t available to chat after 6 pm, or respecting that your employees need weekends, even if they’re working from home. For advice on building and maintaining boundaries as a business family, consider reading The Soul of the Family Business by Tom Hubler. Through personal anecdotes, real-world case studies, useful tools and frameworks, and more, Hubler offers an in-depth look at how the most successful business families operate their businesses and build their personal relationships in healthy, productive ways. You can pick up The Soul of the Family Business, available in hardcover form on Amazon.com, directly through Itasca Books, or at a bookstore near you. And of course, if you’re ready to take the next steps, you can always contact Hubler for Business Families today.