Like most parents, I had to significantly adjust my work routine this past spring. My husband and I have been lucky enough to be able to work remotely, but doing so with our son at home definitely has its challenges. That said, now that my son and I have had some time to adapt to sharing an office space, I’m able to identify some undeniable advantages. If you’ve got a kiddo for an office mate or are in the market for one, consider the following benefits:
- Frequent snacks and ergonomic adjustments. If you’ve customarily found yourself in an energy rut first thing in the morning, later in the morning, right after lunch, towards the late afternoon, or even five minutes before dinner, fear not! An eight-year-old office mate will be sure there are a variety of snacks available at any and all of these times. Your blood sugar will never dip again. In addition, your eight-year-old office companion will likely need your help downstairs as soon as you get started on a given project. This helps ensure that you move every 30 minutes, as recommended by researchers.
- Improved office décor. No need to pay big bucks to redecorate your office. An eight-year-old will keep your décor fresh for Zoom calls with a steady stream of new doodles, drawings, paintings, and even sculptures. Don’t worry about choosing which one to display—you have to display all of them.
- Loosened cleaning protocols. In these difficult times, offices are working hard to maintain strict sanitation procedures. If you have a home office with an eight-year-old, requirements tend to be a little more lax. A typical cleaning day might involve picking up used Kleenex and shreds of paper, throwing away an empty yogurt container, and moving piles of things from one part of the room to the other.
- New water cooler conversation topics. Instead of catching up on Westworld between meetings or debating the merits of the series finale of Game of Thrones, you might find yourself developing new interests. Be ready to discuss topics like the rules of Quidditch (in detail), which superhero has the coolest superpower, why you just sighed like that on that phone call, and how much longer you have to work today. It’s better than discussing politics!
- Pooled expertise and resources. Sharing an office means sharing your strengths. You’ll be able to offer help with your child’s schoolwork, and they’ll be able to give you a hug when you need one. You can model good time management, and they can make sure you know everything there is to know about pollination. (Really—everything.) You can practice being patient, and they can practice testing that patience.
In all seriousness, the best thing about sharing an office with a child is learning to keep things in perspective. This year has been a good lesson for me that some of the things I thought I needed for work (a strict schedule, zero distractions) are not always required for me to be productive. Of course, I often do need those things, and I have to make adjustments. But as hard as these months have been, I’ve cherished the extra time with my family. And now … it’s snack time!