Joni Trythall won’t tell you it’s easy.
To be married to someone who works in the same industry and also works remotely — there’s no magic formula for making sure you don’t take work home. Because, for the Trythalls, work is home. Joni shares a home office in Wilmington with her husband, Mike Trythall. She’s a designer for Boston-based education software company Appsembler; he’s the director of user experience at Python and Django shop Lincoln Loop, whose team is 100 percent distributed.
Mike has worked from home for the last eight years, and Joni started working from home five years ago, when their son was born. It was a necessity, she said. She starts work at 5 a.m. to make sure she can pick up her son when he gets home from school at 2:45 p.m. Joni also makes much of her son’s food from scratch because he has several food allergies — she’s come to love it (she even has a blog about it) but it takes time.
“There’s just no way we could make all this work comfortably if I spent my days in an office during traditional hours with a commute,” she said, adding that she cherishes the flexibility working remotely offers.
But when we asked Joni how the couple keeps a work-life balance, she was frank.
“It’s extremely challenging and we are always learning more about our limitations,” she said.
We bounce ideas off each other a lot and find that even “after work” we talk about work or different projects we would like to experiment with. So while it’s great to be with someone that truly understands the rough demands of the industry it’s also very all-consuming for the house; tech is how we make a living and our hobby all in one.
One thing that makes it easier, she said, is that they don’t have the exact same roles and skill sets.
“I suspect that if we had exactly the same roles and skill-sets there would be a lot more disagreements each day,” she said. “I try to focus on the education space within tech through teaching, writing, and doing design work on an open source learning management system. Mike oversees UX at an agency that specializes in large-scale websites.”
Still, the perks of working remotely outweigh the pitfalls, Joni said. It’s worth it.
We have complete control over how and when we work. We are big advocates of “do wherever your head is at,” meaning that your time is best spent doing what you can’t stop thinking about in that moment; our best, most efficient work is done this way. If great ideas come to us at the gym at 11AM then we can go do that. If a quick nap is going to ensure an important meeting goes especially well for one of us then that can happen too. I run a tech conference for women, Ela Conf, and if when I wake up I find that I just can’t stop thinking about an Ela Conf task I can work on that and adjust my work hours accordingly.
And though Joni doesn’t presume to know the answer to the work-life conundrum for those who work from home, she did offer this piece of advice: Respect each other’s work schedule.
It may seem obvious but it’s far too easy to talk at the other whenever something interesting comes to mind for you become frustrated over something happening at work. It’s important to save these little remarks for later since it can be so incredibly disruptive to the other’s workflow. Part of that also includes recognizing when the other is in a groove or feeling especially inspired and taking over some additional household and kid duties at that time.
Also, we dig how Mike retweets Joni’s accomplishments, like this blog post about Ela Conf:
We now have an @elaconf blog. Published our first post yesterday 💥
Transparent look at our numbers and financials: https://t.co/V3u4eYngk9
— Joni Trythall (@JoniTrythall) January 11, 2017