This isn’t what I signed up for! Creating tension free work environments at home.

notwhatisignedupforI’ve written extensively about the epidemic of anxiety resulting from the novel coronavirus. A second mental health challenge is created by the stress of working and living with your partner 24/7. Even if you love your partner to bits, does working and living together all day and night, make you want you pull them to pieces?

Add to this, children off school, and some people may find that their sense of humour has left the building, even though, they are stuck at home.

Here are some coping techniques that might help.

You zone or mine? Create clear work zones for each person. It’s tempting to drift. Allocate zones exclusively for persons or activities, and even for specific activities within specified time periods. For example in our home – the master bedroom is for work calls during 9-6. Not all calls take place in that room, but if you require privacy it is to be respected there. Asking for silence in the lounge is just not realistic.

Celebrate the end of the day: Celebrate the work of the end day with a change of activity. This is now partner time or family time. Go for a walk. Play a game. Talk. Everyone working from home can be stressful, so check how your home-based-workmates are doing.

Remember that experiments are imperfect: We are inadvertently participating in a countrywide “work from home” experiment, for all family members. Even if your organization has a robust business continuity plan to activate, there will be a number of tweaks required within our new reality. In my past life I contributed to various business continuity plans, but at no time did I consider that I would have to build in  a “hands on” parenting aspect that novel coronavirus has introduced.  Your employer is also finding there feet in these uncertain times, evolving how they continue to provide services to their clients, and so their expectations of you may change day to day. Sometimes it seemed that remote work would be impossible, only to find this is not the case at all. 

Schedule flexibily: That said scheduling might help create some order in the chaos within your home. Try to create some structure – who has calls, and when when? Who will take care of shopping or dinner? Which parent will work with the kids, and when? Schedule only one or two days in advance, and remember it can all change. That is okay.

Kindness is king: You may feel anxious because of Covid-19. That is to be expected. It may be inconvenient to have to share your lounge office with your partner. You could become irritated. The situation may be irritating. Regardless you choose how you respond to any situation. Demonstrate kindness, it pays greater dividends in the long run.

Be aspirational: Remember this too will pass, every person encounters challenges in their lives. How we respond to these challenges determines how well we will deal with the next challenge (and there will be one). Think about the values and attributes that you want to be admired for possessing – because this is the time to demonstrating them.

Or just live, day-to-day:  If you are not coping – that’s okay too. We all fall down sometimes. Tomorrow is another day.

Lots of love, Angela


If you are overwhelmed or worried about your ability to cope at this time our counsellors are still around during the crisis. Send an SMS to 93785428 or email Angela at and we will try to help.

Also consider to read (or even re-read) our article on coping with anxiety in the times of pandemic.

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