In reaching out to remote co-workers for this article, I learned this story from Sammy and Skyler (not their real names). They are married, sit back-to-back in a shared home office, and have established many important routines and rules. They sit down to their desks around 8 a.m. The last one in brings the coffee. Then they spend a few minutes coordinating their schedules: who has which calls or meetings, when, who is on a tight deadline, etc., so they can decide which one of them will attend to their dog. In video meetings, other participants only rarely see the back of Sammy’s head when meeting with Skyler, or vice versa, because by sitting back-to-back they block each other from the camera. But if their meetings overlap, one of them moves to another room in the house. They keep their office clean by taking away any coffee cups and dishes as part of their scheduled breaks. Skyler likes listening to podcasts or music while working. Sammy needs quiet, so Skyler uses noise-cancelling headphones.
These rules and routines, together with mutual respect for each other, their workspace, and their home, are all at the core of Sammy and Skyler’s work-from-home success.