Why I Like Working With My Partner

We had a wonderful catch-up with some dear friends in San Diego last weekend, who mentioned that we had it “all figured out” when we talked about how we work together. I had to laugh a bit, since I think we have it far from figured out! Most notably, we do not live by the ocean right now. We drive three hours each way for a weekend beach break – shew!

That said, working together has been a good life choice for us. We’ve been working at the same location for 7 years now – since 2008 when we both started at Scripps, followed by our dual move to NRL. Here’s why we like it:

  1. We drive to work together. This saves us the hefty expense of a second vehicle, and the lesser expense of daily fuel miles.
  2. We can have lunch together any day we want to.
  3. Simon is my #1 advisor for science, strategy, and my best brainstorming partner. If I want his input, all I have to do is walk downstairs.
  4. Being established as a couple at an academic type institution gives a bit more staying power – if one of us is deemed very desirable, the other benefits.
  5. When one of us bikes, the other has the car and can rescue them in an emergency (we aren’t on the other side of town).
  6. If Joey has an emergency and needs us, we can discuss it in person and make an action plan quickly.

Here’s what we do to make it work:

  1. Plan ahead (especially since we share a car) – we work the same or complementary hours depending on the day, and we have to constantly remember to respect the other’s work needs and our nanny schedule.
  2. Respect one another’s workspace. We are in different departments and each have our own office, so we aren’t literally together all of the time. It’s important to liaise with our co-workers and be productive while we are here.
  3. Don’t abuse the privilege – I don’t spend time in Simon’s office having prolonged discussions on non-work related topics (where we want to go on vacation, what we want to do this weekend, etc)

Plenty of folks think we are a little crazy for both living and working together! We’ve seen a variety of strategies where both members of a couple are employed. The most common is that each works in a different place. For those that are in the same location, there is a range from complete dis-interaction with each other (they prefer to keep work and home separate) to couples like us that regularly consult one another throughout the day on statistical tests, the best journal for a certain paper, or coding assistance. We think of ourselves as a team, and so far this works for us.

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