Let’s continue addressing some of the more common questions attorneys may have about how the Coronavirus pandemic may affect their firms.
How Can I Separate Work from Family While Working from Home?
No doubt this can be a challenge for lawyers. When you’re home, chances are your family is used to having access to you whenever they want, which can result in a lot of distractions when you’re trying to work. (Anyone watching Jimmy Fallon trying to do his TV show from home?) As an additional complication, you’ve got to protect attorney-client privilege when talking to clients, which means family shouldn’t be in earshot during those conversations. Some tips that may help:
- Set up a makeshift “office” space if your home allows. Gently let your family know that when you’re in that room working, it’s off-limits.
- Set client calls and video chats for certain times of the day. Close off the room when those phone calls take place. (Family members should be able to leave you alone for an hour or so if they know in advance.)
- Make sure to observe your own “down time” boundaries. One of the dangers of working from home, ironically, is we may have trouble keeping to our own office hours, and we end up working day and night. You need downtime, and your family needs time with you. If you’re asking family to leave you alone at certain hours of the day, it’s only right not to let your work time bleed over into family time. It will be better for your sanity as well as theirs.
- Avoid calling your employees after hours. If you have employees also working from their homes, you need to observe the same boundaries with them that you should be imposing on yourself. Contact them during work hours; leave them alone after hours unless it’s an emergency.
- Be patient and flexible. The process of working from home won’t be perfect, especially if you haven’t had a home office before now. Expect interruptions, expect bleed over, and give your family and yourself the latitude to make the adjustment. This whole thing is new for everyone involved.
Separating work from family can be challenging when you’re working from home, but with patience and discipline, you can do it. Do what you need to do to create that space, and try to avoid getting too stressed during the process. We’ve all got plenty of stress to contend with as it is.