Remote family business.

Combining two of those words alone -family and business- is enough to stir up more complexity than most of us can handle. Yet somehow, many of us cannot resist.

After all, who shares more common goals with us than the members of our household? With collaborative efforts, we should be able to reach the stars. Or, might we end up reaching for something a lot closer…like each other’s throats?

While being remote is great, it puts an extra twist on things. But I’ll argue that it’s the least complicated part.

Here are some points to ponder when it comes to working from anywhere with family.

“Real World” Experience Preferred

It’s not that working remotely isn’t working in the real world.

It’s very real, but working while being out and about in the conventional sense allows you to learn from others more intimately, gives you a background on professional and social standards, and allows you to appreciate what you have when you do actually get to break free from working in a set location.

It also helps you to develop a sense of integrity, figuring out if you’re the kind of person that needs someone to look over their shoulder or not in order to get their work done.

Surprise: There Are Rules

Our teenage worker (my 17-year-old son) was shocked to find out that he had to redo his work if he didn’t follow directions. He was even once temporarily relieved from his duties. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed work while laying down in his bed. Or receive training while wearing his undershirt.

“When you’re coming to work, put on a shirt,” I’d say.

“What’s the point of working from home,” He protested. “If I can’t even work in my the comfort of my own room or wear what I want?”

“No one works in their room in this house,” I replied. To me, it should’ve been an obvious statement. When he leaves for school each day, I’m sitting at my desk. When he returns home, I’m still sitting there. “We work at home, but we work at our desks. And I think you’ll notice we also wear shirts while we’re sitting at them. ”

“I have a desk in my room.”

“You are still training and need to be supervised when you work. I will buy you a desk to sit with me in my office.”

Disappointment. Sitting with me in my office doesn’t sound so bad to me. But to my 17 year old, I guess it didn’t sound like fun.

No One Is The Boss. And Everyone Is The Boss.

The adults on the team, at least, are responsible for answering to no one and at the same time, are responsible for answering to everyone.

I’m still not sure if being your own boss is a good thing when your expectations are high and actually, being one’s own boss is just an illusion because whoever it may be, there’ll always be someone that you’ll have to explain your actions to.

Whatever you call the person you answer to, you should just remember this: politeness is the best policy.

Watch Your Tone

It’s easy to let your guard down with the people you love. But putting on a good face with strangers and being a jerk at home will never cut it, especially when you’re at home all day.

Remembering to communicate in a professional way isn’t always easy when you are working with people you’re extremely comfortable with, but it’s a good habit to develop. Not only for the good of your business, but for the good of your marriage and other family relationships as well.

Shared Office Space

Our first home office was a dining/living room combo with floor-to-ceiling red oriental drapes, white tile, and a panoramic view the Giza Pyramids.

In this space was a single dining room table, painted red, 2 red plastic chairs, and one side table where our printer and backup power supply sat.

At that compact dining room table was where we sat all day, worked, ate, often bickered over issues big and small, enjoyed each other’s company, and drove each other crazy.

A Strange Sense Of Isolation

Over the years, we’ve graduated from that space to a larger dining room table, then to a master bedroom converted into home office (we slept in one of the guest rooms), to our current situation which includes 2 dedicated home offices.

Yes, there’s Slack, but I miss being together. I know he’s under the same roof, but there’s a reason this is working out.

I guess we do get along after all.

As a remote team, we have been through all kinds of things. Not agreeing on job duties, disagreements on projects, and sharing passions for things that turned out way more difficult than we expected to execute.

But I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. When you get to choose your co-workers – near or far, friends or family, and everything in between, there’s nothing quite like it.