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Harvard Business Review: How Dual-Career Couples Can Work Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Read How Dual-Career Couples Can Work Through the Coronavirus Crisis by Jennifer Petriglieri, from the Harvard Business Review, March 27, 2020. Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.

I have been a remote worker for the last two years, developing my online presence and writing my book. Normally I would work at one of the local coffeehouses, so I would have some time away from home. My husband worked in downtown at a start-up, so his work transitioned easy to his home office.

And three weeks into our self-quarantine, we have finally figured out how to make it work for us. Three weeks. So of course I went to look for something that could help us and others. This is what I found interesting this week.

“Most of the advice I’m seeing in response to these questions suggests that couples need to focus on the practicalities: Schedule your days. Never work at the kitchen table. Close the door to your home office. Divide the chores. Talk to your boss. Alternate shifts between childcare and work. Take regular breaks. Don’t lose sleep. Leverage technology.

“These practicalities are clearly important and all couples, indeed all workers, will need to make serious adjustments. But my six years of research has taught me that what determines which couples will go their separate ways when the crisis ends and which will have a second honeymoon period (and perhaps a third child to boot!) will not be how they deal with the practicalities. It’s not about who will brave the pandemic to go out and buy milk. Instead, my research — for which I’ve interviewed more than 100 couples — shows that the couples who survive crises with their relationship and careers intact are those who discuss and agree on certain principles as the crisis begins.”

By Jennifer Petriglieri, Harvard Business Review, March 27, 2020

The author suggests six agreement areas that couples should speak about and update regularly during this time of self-quarantine. Below is a summary of what felt salient for me:

What matters most to you in this period? The easy answer for all of us is the health and safety of our loved ones. But beyond this, what are your top three goals for this time? Is there a particular work project you want to see through to completion? A relationship you want to foster? Do you want to use the time at home to map out your next career transition? Is the your kids’ education top of mind?

What is the relative priority of your careers over the coming months? If you’re both working from home and simultaneously managing other commitments like child and elder care, you will need to figure out whose work gets priority when. Do you have a stable deal in which one of your careers consistently takes priority over the other? Do you try to maintain a 50/50 split? Or are there certain weeks when one of you will need to have priority over working time?

What do you need from each other to make this all work? We are all craving support, but what does that look like for you? Emotional or practical? Do you need to know that you’ll have 15 minutes of undivided attention every evening to check in and debrief the day? Do you need your partner to share some of the tasks that you usually take full responsibility for? What do you need from your partner to help you stick to your crisis deal? It’s likely that you and your partner will need different things from each other. Adapting to your partner’s needs demonstrate the goodwill and love we’ll all need to make it through these times.

“Faced with a crisis, our focus often narrows to the immediate tasks at hand. As one woman I spoke to remarked: “It’s easy for this situation to put you in task mode. I’m realizing, though, that we need to figure out a new deal to get through it.” My research concurs: Couples that work are those who put their deal first. Only then do they move onto the practicalities.”

By Jennifer Petriglieri, Harvard Business Review, March 27, 2020

Do well and be well, until we can return to our prefered place to work – whether in the office, coffeehouse, or just someplace out in the sun.

Continue reading How Dual-Career Couples Can Work Through the Coronavirus Crisis by Jennifer Petriglieri, from the Harvard Business Review, March 27, 2020. Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.

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