Home Polls When the Workplace Family Really Is Family

When the Workplace Family Really Is Family

The idea that your co-workers are like family can sometimes make the working environment a little easier to adapt to. People who consider others “family” may try to be a little more patient and forgiving. Perhaps there’s greater encouragement to see each other succeed. As one respondent to a recent WO Pop-up Poll wrote, “We try to emphasize the team concept to all our co-workers. It means that we are all part of a work “family,” with each of us trying to help each other achieve the same goals.”

Yet the truth is that the “work family” members generally go to their own homes when the practice closes. In a recent WO Pop-up Poll, WO asked what happens when the work-family is actually family-family.

As WO polls are voluntary, it seems likely that fewer people who do not work with family or spouses responded to this poll, titled, Can You Work With the People You Love? People who do not work with a family member accounted for only 11% of the total respondents.

Among respondents, 56% said that they do work with their spouse or significant other (SO). Another 17% said that they work with a family member who is not a spouse or SO. Seventeen percent said that have previously but are not currently working with a family member or spouse.

Dr. John Pack and Dr. Beverly Bianes are a husband and wife OD team in San Diego, Calif.


When asked who the primary decision-maker is, 41% of respondents said it was them. The next biggest group, 35%, said that the decisions are shared equally between the respondent and spouse, while 6% said that the spouse or SO is the key decision-maker. Twelve percent said that it is someone else who makes decisions.

To make it work, 53% of respondents said it’s important to have a clear delineation of duties as to who does what. This divide and conquer strategy can take several forms. One respondent wrote, “I am in my office; he is in his office. He works at my office one day a week.”

More than a third of respondents said that working with a spouse or family member is not a problem and they enjoy the extra time together. Another factor for making it work for 24% of respondents was to keep office talk at the office.

Dr. Minal Patel and husband Agam Patel work together in Abington, Penn.


One OD noted that she has hired her daughter for the past seven months to manage the front desk. The daughter is headed off to law school soon, but the working relationship has been a factor in business growth,  she says. “We work to maintain professional interaction between us, and she is not allowed to call me ‘Mom’ at work. She knows a lot of our patients and how to prioritize our ‘A’ list. She is packing my schedule though and pushing me to work additional hours to keep our waitlist under control. Our monthly revenue has steadily grown, and I think it’s because she’s invested in our success and not afraid to communicate with me.”

Dr. Janelle Davison and husband Jimmie Davison of Smyrna, Ga.


See more couples that work together and what they have to say about making it work.


Have a poll idea? Curious about something? Email us here.

Check out past WO polls and responses here.


Featured photo credit: Getty Images, Malte Mueller

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