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(Trying to) Work from Home

(42 Posts)
MarianneSolong Mon 01-Dec-14 11:03:03

This has become increasingly difficult since my husband retired, and started a new business which is also based at home. I also have an outside part-time job, which means I am out of the house every lunchtime.

Some of the stuff he needs for the business is stored in the room where I work. He will also occasionally need access to the PC I use, because the iPad he mostly uses doesn't currently have software which will allow his database to be stored there. And he will sometimes want to make use of the cordless phone to make calls on the landline - rather than his mobile.

When he first retired, he would also constantly open the door to keep telling me what he was doing, where he was going. Or I'd go up to clean my teeth, come down to start work, only to find he'd started using the computer to make entries on the database.

I've tried really hard to solve the problems. I've suggested that every breakfast he tells me what he's going to do that day, so he doesn't have to keep interrupting me by telling me what he's doing - I'll already know. I've suggested that when he needs to use the room where I work, that whenever possible he does this while I'm out at my part-time job.

But over the last few days everything has gone horribly wrong. There was a busy weekend doing family-related stuff, so I couldn't do much work then. Plus sleeping problems meant that I had to stick to doing things which didn't need much concentration. So I was looking forward to Monday morning, when normally I'd have several hours when my daughter was at school, but before I had to leave for my part-time job. I was a bit disconcerted to find that my husband had invited one person round to view stuff stored in my work space at 9.30 and another at 10. I told him it was not ideal. Even so, just having 45 minutes before the 9.30 appointment felt better than nothing. My husband managed to interrupt me three times between 8.45 and 9.30 - taking out the phone, putting it back and then telling me that he would be going out for 15 minutes. After the third interruption, I got really angry with him - and he became hurt and defensive, rather than apologising..

I am really feeling quite desperate. Can anyone relate to that feeling of despair?

FaFoutis Mon 01-Dec-14 11:17:32

That is awful, and impossible for you.

I work from home and find I have had to defend my space and my time a lot. Even someone speaking to me once can set me back 30 minutes and if I thought the door was going to keep opening I wouldn't be able to concentrate at all.

You can't work like that. You need to find somewhere else or he does, him actually.

Littlef00t Mon 01-Dec-14 11:21:24

Could you get another landline phone so he doesn't have to share the one you use?

Does he need to update the database all the time or can this be restricted to just during lunchtime as you have requested?

Noise cancelling earphones with music or just nothing to drown out other noises?

Not sure what the appointments were for, but as this is your workspace he needs to check with you before making them.

Buttercupsanddaisys Mon 01-Dec-14 11:21:30

Can fully empathise. I solved our my problem by renting the spare room of a friend 9.00-1.00. Took my own large mug of coffee, didn't need to use her loo in those 4 hrs, she was on H.B so the amount we agreed £25.00 was ideal for us both.Shut the door, didn't have to answer the phone even, guaranteed 4 hrs uninterrupted work time. Was brilliant.

Might trigger an idea for you?

LilyPapps Mon 01-Dec-14 11:21:50

This wouldn't make me despairing, but furious. He is not respecting your work time or your work space - in fact, it sounds as if he is actively undermining you, and treating your established work patterns as subordinate to his.

You need to be very clear. He would not keep phoning you at the office, or dropping by to tell you what he is up to, so he needs to respect your work hours and work environment at home, just as if you were working in an office environment. He needs to sort out his own IT/phone issues, and stop telling you what he is doing! Why would you care, as long as he is there to do your daughter's pick-up or whatever?

LilyPapps Mon 01-Dec-14 11:22:52

PS. I also work two days a week from home, and both my husband and our toddler know that when I'm in my study, no one enters, unless it's an emergency.

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Mon 01-Dec-14 11:37:54

I work from home and it's not "the"'s mine. Everyone understand that they must NEVER use mine even in the direst emergency.

I had to be very, very strict with people who could not understand that working from home does not mean they can call in for coffee at 11 or phone for a chat at 2.

You need to set boundaries for YOU. Don't ask him what he is doing...tell him what YOU are doing!

SeasonsEatings Mon 01-Dec-14 11:44:21

I sympathise. I don't have an office and when people are around its a nightmare.

Get your DH a new laptop for christmas? Or get him to?

Buy a cordless phone with multiple handsets?

MarianneSolong Mon 01-Dec-14 11:45:41

Thanks everyone - both for support and food for thought. Will reply later, perhaps after I have attempted to talk to my husband. Have got to leave for my outside job now.

Mintyy Mon 01-Dec-14 11:51:14

Totally get what you're saying. My husband also mainly works from home and we have had many clashes, mainly because he thinks its absolutely fine to wander in and ask me who is taking our ds to football in 3 days time, for example.

I have just had to keep repeating and repeating that he must treat me as if I am not here!

I work on a laptop and go to the library for peace and quiet sometimes smile.

museumum Mon 01-Dec-14 11:51:15

I'm in two minds about this tbh. On the one hand it's essential to have the space and equipment you need to work at home (I say this while currently working at a table in the living room as my baby has taken my office for a bedroom, but this is temporary).
On the other hand though, I worked in offices for years mostly open plan and having somebody come in to get the phone, put it back or say 'i'm popping out' are really very minor interruptions compared to working in a busy office, so in some ways you are possibly being a bit too easily distracted or disrupted by ordinary comings and goings. Very few people have the luxury of working in complete isolation.

I think you need to be realistic about boundaries. E.g. absolutely no guests/clients coming into your space when you're supposed to be working, and no using your computer, but be a bit more forgiving about 'i'm just popping out' or 'would you like a cuppa' ordinary interactions that would happen in any office space.

Nanny0gg Mon 01-Dec-14 11:53:03

He's started a business.

He needs a laptop and a printer.
You need a phone with multiple handsets

He needs to respect the fact that you are working (turn the tables and interrupt him?). If he misses working with colleagues, suggest 'meeting' for coffee or lunch when you get back?

Anything to do with his work is kept on his laptop/in his work area.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 01-Dec-14 11:53:58

He can use your PC only if you are out at work or in the evenings. Get a phone each. Get a second line if you are both on phone a lot, but I'd see if you can manage with one line but 2 phones for now as obviously cheaper. He should stay out of your office whenever you're working.

Iggly Mon 01-Dec-14 11:54:45

Put a password lock on the computer and physical lock on the door and remove his stuff.

Vycount Mon 01-Dec-14 11:59:33

You need to spaces, two computers and two phones. Can that be arranged? Or - ask him can you manage without the income from your business, point out that he's putting it in jeopardy.

turkeyboots Mon 01-Dec-14 12:08:12

DH and I both work from for a large part of each week. We have separate work spaces, separate computers and phones. It's not a luxury, it's a requirement if you want to get anything done. We do make each other tea and coffee and have lunch together though.

OnlyLovers Mon 01-Dec-14 12:40:29

separate work spaces, separate computers and phones. It's not a luxury, it's a requirement.

I agree with this. I also think he's trying to get your attention and/or undermine your work.

He needs to sort out his own phone, space and computer (HE does, not you).

Start shutting and locking your door when you're working but tell him before you do so that that's how you're going to work, and reiterate that you should have a catch-up every morning so you can tell each other things about the day you need to know.

You could set times during the day to meet up to chat – coffee breaks, lunch, whatever.

MarianneSolong Mon 01-Dec-14 15:08:44

Perhaps I need to give more information.

My husband decided about 18 months ago to set up as an art dealer and has also taken framing courses. The plan chest where prints and drawings are stored is in the front room where I currently work as an office, where I can. It's also where our only printer is, and where visiting clients are shown work/frames etc. Art business related stuff is all over the house. Some packing materials are stored in a back bedroom/which my daughter also uses to store her A-level coursework. This is also the only room which can be used as a spare room when guests come or adult stepchildren return (Otherwise I have wondered if this back room could be an alternative office for me.) My husband also uses what was a very small front room as a workshop/framing room. But there are framing materials/stuff related to picture restoration etc all over the house. I have given him a lot of support with setting up this venture because I wanted it to succeed - and am continuing to do so - but this has made me feel rather drained.

I'm not sure why he isn't taking all calls via his iPhone. It's something I need to discuss with him.

Although I do some paid freelance work of my own from home and have some part-time outside work, my main focus is writing a second novel. I have an agent and the first novel was a near miss. (Some interest from a major publisher and it went to an acquistitions meeting.) I absolutely appreciate that in conventional open plan office situations there are interruptions, phones ringing, but I'd argue that some kinds of writing do really depend on a lack of external interruption. I certainly found it a lot easier getting the first novel written when he was out of the house between 8am and 6pm every weekday.

But one of the issues I face is no guarantee that the second novel will sell. There is no advance. No contract. So I can't turn round and say, 'I need this space in order to earn the so many thousand a months which is keep us afloat financially.'

I think there's an argument for saying I should at least buy a laptop and pay for membership a local coworking space. I couldn't guarantee peace there, though I could find out when the quiet times were/where the quiet corners are/ and take earplugs.

museumum Mon 01-Dec-14 15:38:16

Personally I have found co-working spaces to be more like open plan offices and so not as quiet as you clearly need for writing.

I think your family need to really overhaul the use of your home and all the spaces in it. Start from scratch thinking what you should put where to try to keep his stuff all together and give you a quiet corner somewhere. Use this as a way to talk through what you both need from the house as a workspace during the day.

I do feel for you, we have a one year old and I haven't yet sorted out my workspace now he's got my office for a bedroom.

InfinitySeven Mon 01-Dec-14 15:51:49

Co-working spaces will be relatively noisy. They are designed to be...the people that use them are the type that they work better with some background noise.

DP and I both work from home. DP isn't here everyday, I'm here more, but we manage it fine when we both are. We use mobiles, because that's the way it's turned out. If we need silence, we work in the study, and there is no disturbing people in there no matter what. We don't use each others computers.

Sometimes we will talk, sometimes we won't. Sometimes we'll be in the middle of a conversation when one of us has to stop talking and concentrate. But we're working, above all, so we are respectful of each others' time and space.

That is what this is about. If your husband respected your time, he wouldn't keep disturbing you. I'd lay out your working hours, and tell him that you'll require the study between X and X, and he needs to take whatever he needs out before then, or wait until after you've finished. He cannot use your computer during those hours, and he cannot use the house phone. If he disturbs you, ignore him. He'll get the message soon enough. You have to be strict about this and respect your working time, and he'll follow suit.

OnlyLovers Mon 01-Dec-14 16:46:08

If your husband respected your time, he wouldn't keep disturbing you.

This is the crux of it, isn't it? Your living and working space sounds as though it comes with challenges, yes, but if there was mutual respect then you'd be able to work around these challenges.

I do think it's worth looking very hard at your space though and being as creative as you can about rejigging it to suit both your work requirements and his.

ATailofTwoKitties Mon 01-Dec-14 16:51:21

Laptop in the back bedroom, if you can comfortably work that way? But he is putting you out and really he needs to find a way not to.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 01-Dec-14 16:55:26

I'd - have a separate space for him and you
Separate laptops
New printer [my last one cost £18]
Phone with multiple handsets.

Then you can both work in harmony.

whois Mon 01-Dec-14 16:58:43

Laptop and mobile phone for DH who can work in the kitchen. And am instruction NEVER to disturb you at work for meaningless chatter.

PuppyMonkey Mon 01-Dec-14 17:02:57

I'd have that back bedroom as my office. Bung a futon in there so it can still be used as a spare room as and when necessary. Your daughter can store her A level art stuff somewhere else, surely?

Yes it's putting the onus on you to sort out the room, but I couldn't work in the front room with an annoying interrupter. grin

Put a lock on your new office door and/or a Do Not Disturb sign.

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