Party of five (rules for working from home)

The Whereby Blog
Published in
2 min readMar 26, 2020

On a recent video call, toddlers babbled, pre-teens shouted in the background, and at least one dog barked enthusiastically.

You’d be right in that this wasn’t a playgroup. It was supposed to be a meeting.

In addition to jobs that have gone fully virtual if they weren’t already, many of us now share home offices with new ‘coworkers’: babies, kids, partners, and/or pets.

If you have children, you may also be running a daycare, preschool, Kindergarten, grade school or high school right out of your home. LEGOs are underfoot, and your cognitive capacity feels overloaded as you try to balance caregiving and teaching alongside your regular work.

Television showrunner Shonda Rhimes may have said it best:

…there’s a reason why Take Your Child to Work Day is a day, not an indefinite period.

Accustomed to working autonomously? You may feel fatigued by the uptick in interaction.

When privacy and boundaries are in short supply, you have options. Some tips from the Whereby team:

With your partner:

  • Be generous and don’t let small annoyances build up; assume everyone is doing their best.
  • With a full house, things pile up quickly and can bring down everyone’s mood. Take the extra minute to clean up after meals. Waking up to a clean kitchen gives your day a much better start!

With babies and young kids:

  • Stick to the same rhythm that kids are used to from kindergarten/school for meals and naps. That also gives you some predictability for when to book meetings.
  • Share caregiving responsibilities with a partner or an older child (teen).
  • If this isn’t possible, bring your little one along. (The mute button is your friend.)

With older kids and teens:

  • Set the expectation that interruptions are for emergencies only — and that they should keep the volume down when you’re on calls.

With pets:

  • Your proximity depends on temperament and breed. Your laid-back pug may love cuddling at your feet, but your cat could probably handle herself just fine outside your office.

With everyone:

  • Try some music. Put on something energizing to get your energy up or relaxing to unwind. Do a dance-off with the whole family!

Last but not least: remember that your colleagues have challenges of their own these days, ranging from loneliness to overwhelm. Be compassionate and we’ll all get through this together.

Have other tips on working from home? Please share with us below!