Given all the working from home that has been going on for the last many months, I have heard many professionals assessing their new officemates… er, their partners, spouses, roommates and children with whom they now share both a home and office space! For some, all that together time has been terrific – they have learned a lot more about what their housemates do for a living and how they operate. For others, they are eager for a return to remote work locations so they can draw a more discrete line between home life and work.
So, it is a against that backdrop that I turned to Amy and Chase Ashurst of The Rye Studio in Stilwell, Kansas, for a little guidance. You see, Amy and Chase are a married couple, running their business together. At home in the morning, family life is as you would expect – they get up to prepare for their day, get the kids ready for school, walk and feed the dogs… then, they all (and I really mean ALL) head to the office together. Work is in a 130+ year old building – once a country general store – that serves as Amy’s photography studio and for which Chase manages daily operations.
Having been the beneficiary of Amy’s incredible artistry a few times now, I have seen Amy and Chase in action; they interact as if partners in a dance. She’s moving the furniture around, setting up the lights, looking for just the right shot. Meanwhile, out of nowhere, Chase appears to get a toddler to smile for the camera, to catch a puppy’s attention so Amy can snap the picture. Then, the phone rings and he’s off again to answer a client call or schedule an appointment.
And, this has been going on for years! They didn’t need a global pandemic to teach them how to operate within one another’s space, to give one another the support or the room to do their “thing.” It works masterfully.
As such, I asked Amy and Chase to share with the CLC Community their top five tips for making their partnership work – at home and at the office. Here’s what they said:
- Treat your partner like you would treat your best friend. Loyalty. Trust. Respect. Honesty. Humor. These traits seem like common sense, but not everyone demonstrates them. “The better friends we become, the better we communicate. And, when we talk to each other through love and friendship, there is always a lot of respect there.” When working with your spouse or significant other, respect and communication is a critical factor.
- Change the subject. At work, talk about work, but at home, talk about home. “We don’t talk a lot about work at home. There are times we leave work together and something didn’t go right, or we got stressed out for some reason… but, when we get home, we’re mama and daddy. Husband and wife. We try really hard to not talk a lot of business at home.”
- Establish boundaries. Similar to tip #2, Amy says the two literally leave work “at work”… not just the talking part. In fact, they’ve gone so far as to not even have a computer at home; they respond to emails when they get back to work the next day. When there are images to be edited (and, there are ALWAYS images to be edited), they are worked on only at the studio – never at home. There is a definite separation. “We work at work; when we are home, we are home. It’s a really important balance we’ve tried very hard to stick to for our family.”
- Work hard, play hard. Like so many people – business owners or not, the two work six days a week. They work HARD, every single day. They also know they need to step away sometimes and enjoy their family. Amy and Chase plan a year ahead to identify their getaway weekends, what the holidays will look like, and any other time off. Those dates get marked off on the calendar so they can visually see on what the year ahead will bring. If they don’t put those dates aside ahead of time, they get booked with photoshoots. “We might be working 14 days in a row, but it’s rewarding to know we get three days off at the lake with our babies.” Planning time off is certainly essential to their family’s overall happiness and the memories they create together.
- Lean on your village. Owning one’s own business takes a lot of time. For the Ashursts, there are many times they ask the grandparents to pick up their daughter at dance class, to take their son to basketball… other times, they ask their neighbors to help with the dogs, or their intern to run an errand. They lean on the people who love them. Without that support network, life couldn’t happen as successfully as it does. Asking for help is something people cannot be afraid of. “It’s amazing to feel the love of the people who surround us. They help us do what we love to do.”
Do you work or office with your partner, spouse, roommate and/or children? How do you make it work? Please take a moment to share your insights at blog.coffeelunchcoffee.com.