Working from home changes your sex life and relationship — here's how to make sure the change is positive

In a new survey, 53% pf people thought being able to work remotely would increase time available for romance.Dmytro Sheremeta/Shutterstock

Could working from home help the birds and the bees, ahem, get busier? Most people seem to think so.

The majority of workers think that landing a flexible job – for example, one that allows you to work from home – would boost their love life, a new survey by career site FlexJobs shows. Some 64% of the 3,900 respondents said it would improve their sex life and benefit their romantic relationship. Additionally, 80% thought having a flexible job would help them be more attentive to their significant other or partner.

There’s no doubt that getting a job that lets you work remotely, which for most people involves working from home, is a big change. But is it actually a positive or a negative change when it comes to one’s personal life?

I spoke with people who went from working in an office to working remotely, as well as couples therapists and coaches, and the short answer is: it depends.

There are some clear benefits, but also the potential for problems.

The benefits are obvious and wide ranging. Working remotely can mean more time to be with your partner, to go to your kid’s recital, have a lunch date, or sign off early in time to meet your love for a last-minute dinner out. If your partner is also home, you could even have a midday “sex date,” according to Sari Cooper, director of Centre for Love and Sex, a group sex therapy and coaching practice based in New York City.

“Spontaneous sex during daytime hours, when the kids are in school, is a favourite of a lot of stay-at-home parents since they’re exhausted after a whole day with the kids,” said Cooper, who also provides online coaching.

But working from home isn’t paradise. It is still work; and often the boundaries between work and personal responsibilities can get blurred.

According to Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist based in Santa Monica, California, a common issue that arises for such couples is one where the partner working remotely takes on all of the household duties. Partner A, the remote worker, runs the errands, walks the dog during breaks, cooks meals, and picks up the kids, while partner B, who works at an office, doesn’t deal with most or any of those chores. This could cause stress in a relationship and lead to conflict.

Durvasula also noted that the remote worker not taking on household duties could cause issues, especially if their partner is a homemaker or stay-at-home parent. “This can create the illusion that the remote worker is shirking duties because if they are in the next room they can hold the baby, change the diaper, play with toddler, tend to the sick child, purchase groceries, make dinner, or clean the house, but this may not be possible. As such, this can create tension,” said Durvasula, author of “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

Another common issue centres around what happens when the work day is over, according to Cooper.

The remote worker, who’s largely at home and by themselves, could also feel lonely and in need of more chat time than their office-working partner may feel their partner needs. Cooper said the remote-working partner might want to go out and leave the house at the end of the working day, while the office-working partner may be feeling tired from a long commute or from being in meetings all day. This could lead to distrust in the relationship, since the remote worker may go out more often without the office-working partner. And more distrust could mean a decrease in the frequency of sex, Cooper said.

According to Durvasula, another common problem can arise from what she calls “the sweatpant paradox.” On the one hand, a person who works from home gets the benefit of being able to work in pretty much whatever clothes they like. On the other hand, not getting primped and properly dressed like you would for an office job could accidentally dull your sex life.

So what’s a couple to do? People who work from home, as well as relationship and sex therapists, shared some poignant advice.

  1. Set up a schedule.

Alissa Lopez, who now runs her own personal assistant company,FamiliesDo, from home, left her office days behind in June of 2019. After her first couple of months as a remote worker, she learned how important it is to have specific time dedicated for work, and specific time dedicated to one’s partner/family.

“I think acting like I have a 9-to-5, or creating some other set schedule for work hours, is key to creating work-life balance where I can prioritise my partner. In the very beginning, with all that schedule freedom I started going nocturnal. Waking up around noon and working until 4 a.m. because I could, which was not healthy for myself or our relationship. I was never around in the morning and when he was around in the evening, I was in full-on work mode,” she said.

  1. Talk about splitting up household duties.

Scott Dawson, a web designer and front-end developer who’s been working remotely since 1998, knows a thing or two about how to work from home. In fact, he wrote a book on the topic, “The Art of Working Remotely.”

“Work out who’s doing what outside of work responsibilities. [My wife and I] are never surprised when the kids need to go somewhere, or dinner needs preparing, or the driveway needs snow shoveled. We have a shared online calendar for the whole family, and there are seldom surprises because we communicate so readily as a family,” he said.

Having an arrangement of this kind can help avoid a situation where one person is doing all the chores.

  1. Designate a specific workplace, and get out every so often.

Having a specific area of your house or apartment for work can help prevent your job from taking over your entire life, physically and mentally speaking. And getting out of the house can be beneficial, too.

Taking time to work from an outs tide space for some days can help create a psychological boundary between the work mindset and the personal one, Cooper said.

Working from a coffee shop once a week, for example, is especially good for partners that are both home, the relationship and sex coach said.

“There’s a lot of be said for the potential space of time spent apart to stimulate frisson or erotic excitement in a relationship.”

4. Remote workers, get dressed in the morning.

“Unless there is video conferencing that may push a person to run a brush through her hair or get dressed up, it is easy to roll down to the desk in last night’s pajamas. While this may be comfortable, it may also impede the sort of ‘za-za-zoo’ that comes from putting on the power suit or power heels or power anything,” Durvasula said.

So put on a nice work outfit on in the mornings, it could make you feel more productive and sexy.

5. Communicate as you figure things out.

“Be clear on expectations, and what can be realistically expected. Be clear on noise levels, for example TVs, crying kids, if you need to do calls. Perhaps set up a signalling system, so that when an office door is closed, that means no disruptions whatsoever,” the therapist said.

And above all, talk things out.

“Communicate, communicate, communicate.”