For Better or Worse During COVID-19: Sharing Telework Space

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek April 16, 2020
for better or worse
​This is the third in a series of compilations of answers to #NextChat questions of the day about how people are working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It can be tough sharing your workspace with partners, spouses or other family members while working from home during the pandemic. In one of her daily #NextChat questions, Mary Kaylor, SHRM-SCP, manager of public affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), asked March 24 what people are doing to make the best of the situation.

SHRM Resource Spotlight
Coronavirus and COVID-19

The following is a compilation of some of the LinkedIn and Twitter responses. 

Background Music

Samantha Alvarez, business development manger at staffing and recruiting firm Nesco Resource that is based in Mayfield, Ohio, wrote on LinkedIn:

We came up with a system to have quiet music on during time when we are not "available" to chat with each other. We also try to take our "lunch break" at the same time. That has been helping us a lot. 

Blame Cheryl 

Justin Leader, vice president of business development for Benefit Design Specialists in the Harrisburg, Pa., area, suggested this on LinkedIn:

Blame everything on an imaginary coworker named Cheryl. For example, 'Cheryl, why do you keep leaving dishes everywhere!' 'Cheryl, you forgot to lock the front door.' 'Cheryl can you keep it down I'm on my sixth zoom meeting of the day.' 

Becky Mills, recruiter for Ephrata, Pa.-based Compleat Restorations, said on LinkedIn:

Ours is named Chad! Chad keeps eating all the chips in the breakroom and outright refuses to clean up coffee grounds on the counter. 

Read the rest of the thread here—evidently there are a lot of culprits that need to be reported to HR.


Molly Hanson, a staffing and recruitment specialist in Corona, Calif., commented on LinkedIn:, commented on LinkedIn:

Make sure your husband knows you are on a video call before he walks into the background behind you in front of your entire region! We are all learning and trying to make this work:)  


On LinkedIn, Benjamin Richter, executive director for Parker and Lynch Accounting and Finance in West Palm Beach, Fla., wrote:

My wife and I are working in separate rooms. We thought this was good enough until I started fielding all my calls on speaker. I'm a loud talker so barely into my conversation my wife comes in the room, glares at me and tells me to lower my voice. Well, I got the hint and quickly grabbed my Bluetooth headphones and am now back in her good graces ... so I think. It's been an adjustment for sure but we are making it work. One of the best things that has occurred is being able [to] gain a better understanding of what each other's day is like when we normally only get to hear about it. It gives us more to talk about at the end of the day rather than how has your day been. Bonus: We get to eat lunch together sometimes!

Individual Spaces

Melanie Peacock, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, consultant at Sole Proprietor in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, tweeted: 

Thomas Barrett, talent acquisition specialist at CGFNS International in Philadelphia, commented on LinkedIn:

We lock ourselves in separate rooms. I'll often text her around 12pm to see if she wants to meet for lunch and we usually meet up at this great place called the kitchen. So far, it's been working.

Amy B., HR generalist for Bonfe's Plumbing, Heating & Air Service in Minneapolis-St. Paul, said on LinkedIn:

We operate like co-workers during business hours – we have our own work spaces, respect each other's privacy / boundaries with calls and information, and take lunch breaks separately so we have our own mental space. We also know that when the work day is done, "our time" begins, so we leave "shop talk" out of it.  

Divvy Up Chores

Shobhna Bhatnagar, SHRM-SCP, senior manager of diversity management and compliance at Interpublic Group of Companies in the greater New York City area, wrote on LinkedIn:

Give space to each other! Don't expect only one of the spouses to take all chores at home, including children related, especially with home schooling, the burden is much more. Divide your roles on a weekly basis based on your work responsibilities. Let your managers know or block your calendar for the times when you need to spend time with your kids education. Enjoy lunch together on a daily basis. 

David M. Arrington, Ph.D., executive leadership coach at Arrington Coaching in Hampton, Va., tweeted: 


Wendy Kelly, SHRM-CP, HR manager in West Palm Beach, Fla., tweeted: 

Occupational Distancing 

Jeff Palkowski, SHRM-SCP, tweeted: 



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