You’d be forgiven for assuming that spending every working day alongside your sibling, parent or significant other isn’t a good idea – think of the squabbles! The constant pressure from a parent breathing down your neck. Sounds awful, right? Well, as it turns out, working with really isn’t as bad as you’d think.
Mike Edwards, head of people at business electricity comparison site, Love Energy Savings spoke to people who work with relatives and found out three big reasons why it can actually make your job much easier. “When you mention working with a family member, most people recoil in horror as though it’s the worst possible scenario. It’s actually quite the opposite! Working alongside members of your family can make you feel more relaxed, supported and can increase your productivity,” he says.
“There are plenty of examples of family members working together in harmony at Love Energy Savings. We recently surveyed our employees and 83 per cent would recommend working at Love HQ to their family and friends and we openly encourage staff to suggest hard-working relatives to add to our team.”
Say goodbye to formalities
Office formalities. They’re a necessary part of work life, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think they’re a huge waste of time. But when you’re working with family, you don’t have to worry about internal politics coming back to bite you.
Fiona Teasdale is the managing director of Whitehouse Farm, and daughter of founders Keith and Sheila Slater. She loves the casual environment working with family brings.
“Decisions can be made far more quickly when working with family (often very informally over a cup of tea!). There are none of the complexities and constraints you’ll face in a corporate business, and it’s less likely you’ll have to explain and debate all options.”
Charlie Field, deputy chairman of CPJ Field, feels the same about the effects on decision-making, and adds that mistakes are easily forgotten when family are involved.
“The highs of working as a family are that we have the autonomy to take the business where we want to. We can get on with driving things forward, when others might still be trying to understand their working relationships. You can also make decisions that are as much about the quality of life for those working in the business rather than just focussing on financial performance.”
A united front goes without saying
When you’re working with family, you’re all in it together. Many businesses strive for a united front among employees, but when you’re working with family this comes naturally. It’s not difficult to believe that colleagues who are related are more likely to be looking out for each other than those that aren’t.
Gemma Young, CEO and Co-Founder of UK proptech startup Settled, works alongside her brother Paul (CMO and co-founder). She understands why some people might balk at the idea of working with their siblings, but being united with her brother has helped her business go from strength to strength.
“It hasn’t always been easy; few Co-Founder relationships are. I hear from a lot of business founders that they found the early stages of their working relationship tough. Working together is much like living together for the first time; new dimensions, new pressures are suddenly apparent and, until you’re there, experiencing it, you don’t really know how things are going to pan out. In our case, the main and unwavering strength we have as siblings is that we’re kind of stuck with each other no matter what. Regardless of any outcome, he’ll always be my brother!”
Kirsty Khan, team leader at Love Energy Savings, agrees it’s good having a right-hand relative on the job.
“My husband, Zig, and I work well together. We understand how each other operate and bounce off each other to develop ideas and ways we can improve processes to benefit the business. It’s nice to have a husband who fully understands my job role and the responsibilities I have. It helps when I use him as a sounding board as we evaluate the day on our journey home, discuss ways we can improve and any objectives for the following day.”
You’ll never have to worry about misreading colleagues
Generally, you’ll only ever spend time with your colleagues in a working environment, which means you’ll never really get to understand them like you would a family member.
And when you don’t know how someone works, it can be very easy to misread them. Miscommunication is a major cause of office conflict, but when you’re working with family you can feel free to be yourself and speak your mind without fear of upsetting anyone.
Alison Thompson loves working alongside her daughter, Danielle, for this very reason.
“Danielle and I work well together. We have a fantastic relationship in and out of work – we’re two peas in a pod! We understand each other’s emotions and can recognise when the other is having a bad day. When this happens, we know exactly how to cheer each other up.”
Having family for colleagues certainly isn’t as scary as it sounds, and could transform your working life (if only by making it a little more interesting!).