Who gets to use the desk today? Who’s stuck working out of the bedroom? Where can you take your conference call with minimal disturbance?

What were once (most likely) non-issues have now been thrust into the spotlight with the rapid shift to a remote workforce during the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, you may be finding yourself in the middle of new struggles as you and your spouse both adjust to working from home.

In the latest Law Firm Leadership Collaboration Circle, we decided to focus on conflict resolution in the home office during the pandemic.

Family Conflict Resolution During COVID-19

If you are married, have kids or both, you have likely been dealing with a variety of new issues causing stress at home over the past several weeks.

The pressure of managing your children’s education as they finish up the school year remotely, keeping them entertained as they miss social activities and seeing their friends and running out of answers when they ask when things will go back to normal is a nearly universal sentiment for parents during COVID quarantines.

These issues are even further amplified by the unknown: There’s still far too much uncertainty circulating.

In these challenging times, it’s important to find ways to keep your kids (and yourself) happy and sane. While your options may be limited, there are still plenty of proactive ways you can fill time.

Create Your Own Fun

Find fun new activities that your kids can do on their own or together as a family. Something as simple as sidewalk chalk or having a time set aside in the evening for family game night can give them something to look forward to and distract from what they are missing.

Get Outdoors

Just because public spaces are closed doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself inside. As the weather warms up, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors from walks or bike rides around the block to playing catch in the backyard.

Educational Opportunities

Now is a great time to dive into learning about things your kids find interesting that either aren’t thoroughly covered in the classroom. From virtual museum tours to educational videos and games, there are countless online education resources available – oftentimes for free!

Work-From-Home Conflict Resolution During COVID-19

The abrupt closure of most offices across the country following state and local stay-at-home orders left attorneys and law firm staff scrambling to adapt to a new normal.

And while figuring out the tech side of things may have been an ordeal on its own, we must also deal with new conflicts that arise in our own home offices.

From managing a limited workspace with your spouse to dealing with constant distractions, working remote has its own unique set of challenges as the boundaries between your personal and professional life break down.

Negotiate Who Works Where & When

If you and your spouse are both competing for limited space as you both work from home, it’s easy to see where new conflicts can arise. Try to get ahead of these by developing a schedule for who will use the available space, for what purpose (e.g. signing up to use the home office for conference calls), etc. Additionally, with the weather warming up, you can get creative with your workspace by utilizing outdoors!

Create New Systems

A full house can make for a chaotic workspace. Creating new rules and systems such as requiring anyone using an electronic device to put on headphones when you or your spouse are taking conference calls or restricting access to specific rooms during certain times of the day can help bring a little order back into your life.

Understand Circumstances Can’t Always Be Controlled

By now, everyone has been on a video call where someone had a baby crying from another room, dogs barking, kids running through, etc. And while at first those distractions may have felt a little jarring, everyone has quickly come to realize we are all in this together and dealing with the same challenges. Old notions of professionalism are currently on hiatus, so just relax and smile the next time someone’s toddler or cat makes a cameo on your Zoom call.

Keeping Up With Mental Health During COVID-19

With so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to find healthy ways of managing stress.

Since it’s impossible to tell how long we will be undergoing these challenges, now is the time to develop new routines to keep on top of your mental health.

A few simple but effective methods for managing stress in any situation include meditation and exercise.

If you feel yourself being overwhelmed, it’s easy to lash out at those around you. Unfortunately, that is likely your family as things currently stand.

Feel yourself getting stressed out? Go for a quick walk to get some fresh air and fresh perspective. Alone-time is harder to come by now, so it’s important that you make some time to be on your own.

Quarantines and stay-at-home orders can take their toll on your mental health but finding a positive outlet for your stress will go a long way toward getting through these difficult times.

Be sure to join our next Law Firm Leadership Collaboration Circle as we discuss switching from a reactive protection mindset to focusing on growth in the coming months.

Finally, we want to thank Kim L. Kirn and Dr. Britt Lindon for providing their professional insights on home workplace conflict resolution!

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