Organisations are beginning to understand that we bring our ‘whole-selves’ to work. With this in mind employers are broadening their focus on building high performing teams. They are ensuring they support dual career couples to be the most effective team they can be. After all, success starts at home.
I read an article a few months back. The article talked about the impact working from home is having on our relationships. It referred to a woman who had seen a completely different side to her husband since they both commenced work from home. She realised her husband was ‘that’ guy. You know, the guy, at work who says things like ‘let’s circle back on that’ or ‘we’ll table that until next week’. Quite frankly, the exposure to her beloveds daily virtual meetings made her cringe. This new working from home arrangement has created some very different relationship dynamics then we could have ever expected.
There are some real positives for dual career couples now working from home. Things like daily cost savings, less commuting time and more ‘quality’ (I use that word lightly) time together. However, it also brings many new challenges. Challenges we did not have before. For example, lack of routine and structure with two people working from home, home broadband and workspaces issues, school on and off again, the list goes on!
Pre-covid times we would kiss our darlings good-bye and arrive at work as individuals. Individuals who have shaken off most of our domestic stresses during our commute to work. This is no longer possible. Unsurprisingly, these challenges are impacting women more than men. A recent study by Berkeley stated ‘Women do 70% of the child care during the work day. They are disproportionately impacted by the burdens of housework and caregiving that have significantly increased. They are more susceptible to severe anxiety and burnout relative to their male counterparts’.
One question being asked by organisations and couples themselves right now is how can we make this working from home arrangement more sustainable for the future? Here are some consideration I have discussed recently;
Dual Career Couples should be considered a critical working team:
Organisations work hard to build high performing teams in their workplace. We now need to extend our reach and consider dual career couples as a ‘working team’. If this working team is not aligned and operating at its best it will affect the productivity and engagement of individuals in their work environment. Coaching to support dual career couples is now a new consideration for organisations. Using a external coach can be a highly valuable and confidential benefit to the employee.
Dual Career Couples can dig deeper:
In most cases both partners of a ‘dual career couple’ want the best for their spouse. No longer is it enough to just ‘muddle through’ juggling day to day practicalities. Trying to split domestic duties or managing childcare, for example. Dual career couples need to dig deeper. Digging deeper means proactively thinking and talking about the life they want, together. It’s about addressing how decisions are made as a couple, these include individual career decisions and the balance of power between the couple.
Dual Career Couples can focus on their team charter:
In most cases both partners of a ‘dual career couple’ want the best for their spouse. However, sometimes their unconscious actions or inactions can negatively impact their partner and their needs. Couples should look at some of the principles that are important to them. Couples can build their own team charter. By doing so couples become clear about what is important to them as individual and then together as a couple. They contemplate, discuss, negotiate and align on what is important to them as a team. Some questions couple can consider are:
- What are our values as a couple?
- What are our fears?
- What is our vision of the future for both work and home?
- What do we want for ourselves as individuals and as a couple?
- What do we expect from each other?
- How do we support each other to do this, now and in the future?
Dual Career Couples can turn their team charter into their day to day lives:
Once the team charter is set, dual career couples can then figure out how they can work towards achieving it. They can figure out what the reality looks like day to day. Can they both prioritize their careers together? If not what are the other options? What support do they need from their employer to be as productive as possible? How do they communicate this to their manager effectively?
As opportunities and life decisions pop up; maybe a promotion, a relocation or who collects their sick child from daycare, the couple can consider these decisions in conjunction with their team charter. This will help them make clearer, less reactive decision.
Raising the subject:
Having conversations like this can sometimes feel heavy and daunting for couples who are already stretched with their career and life responsibilities. Using a professional coach can really help turn the process into something meaningful, productive, and enjoyable. Dual Career Couples coaching is about bringing together the thoughts and actions an individual is already putting in place for themselves as an individual. Just this time you are aligning your life, aspirations and goals with your most important team member.
Today more than 60% of couples now living a dual career life. This, in addition to the global home working shift, organisations and individuals are broadening their focus. Setting an individual up for success in their individual career is as much about helping them to build a solid foundation in their couple world.
One with balanced power and partnership, purpose, and clarity.