Advice column: how can I reduce family intrusions into my homeworking?
Dear Ash,

I have been working from home since the coronavirus crisis escalated. However, although I am working long hours on my laptop, I am finding that my partner and children assume that I am available throughout the day due to my being in the house, and they don’t really take work boundaries seriously.

My partner will frequently start asking about domestic issues when I am working and I often lose my train of thought. My children also want me to play with them and don’t seem to understand that I have work to finish off or calls to take. I’m starting to feel under immense pressure in terms of work deadlines, but I don’t want to let my family down either.

Ash replies:

Working from home certainly involves balancing work commitments within the demands of home life. Because you are physically present during normal working hours, your family will naturally, at times, feel that you are available to attend to their needs; and they will need some time to adjust to the realities of your work commitments.

You have to be able to have some time to focus purely on work issues without interruption, and the best way to do this is to find a space in your home where you can essentially close the door and deal with work. With younger children, you could try to explain to them that you are going to a virtual office and that you will be back to see them after a couple of hours. Try to ensure that when you down tools for a break, you look to spend a little time with your children to allow them to get the benefit of you being at home. This way, you can feel less guilty about work whilst still feeling that you can have some time with family.

Try to schedule meal times with your family and have lunch together with your partner and kids. You are entitled to a proper lunch break and spending this time with family should allow you to relax away from work and also to catch up on domestic issues.

Consistency with boundaries is not always going to happen, and the odd kids’ demands or tantrums being heard in the background during work calls is becoming quite the norm; we are all in the same boat, so try not to worry!

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland.

The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3).

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