Don't let cabin fever win
In the current climate with COVID-19, many employers are requesting folks to stay home and work remotely. This may be an uncommon or even completely new experience for many of us.
The initial perks of not having to commute and being able to stay in PJs all day can very quickly wear off. Working from home can actually be even more stressful than showing up at the office, as without the ‘face time’ an individual can feel pressured to put in extra hours and effort to prove productivity.
To perform your best at your job from home does have certain asks of your environment and routine, and if you live with housemates who are all working from home simultaneously for the first time, this could get even more complicated.
You may have a housemate who used to frequently travel overseas for work who now finds herself working from home, and another who previously would leave the house at 6am for a long commute to the office.
All of a sudden, the house feels a lot more crowded and there’s barely enough room in the kitchen even to make your breakfast toast.
Whether or not you’re already best buds with your housemates, or are a group of individuals who just share common spaces, these tips will help set you and your housemates up for success in this current situation.
1. Set ‘no disturbance’ hours
Not everyone knocks off work at the same time and it will do well to respect each other’s work hours.
Setting house ‘no disturbance’ hours means you won’t have situations where the sounds of a housemate Netflixing and chilling in the living room floats over whilst you’re taking a call with an important overseas client. Although, it could be a decent conversation starter if your client is also a fan of Stranger Things.
In the same vein, you’ll also want to make sure that your own activities aren’t disturbing your housemates as well.
We recommend doing sound checks with each other such as asking “can you hear me from your side if I speak this loud on calls”. As an individual, investing in equipment like a good set of headphones from Amazon or Lazada can also reduce background noise for your calls.
2. Have a shower rotation schedule
Even if you opt to get some extra snooze now that you no longer have to commute for work, you’re still going to want to at least freshen up and look like a decent human being on your video calls. It just puts you in the right mindset of being professional when you also look the part.
If you’re maximising the snooze, that might mean having just minutes before your first call to get ready.
Instead of dealing with the extra stress of realising that your housemate got to the shower before you did, discuss having a shower rotation schedule where everyone knows what time and for how long they’ll use the shower.
3. Agree on timings for kitchen usage
If you’re starting to get sick of having food deliveries for every meal, whipping up a quick lunch or a more considered dinner can sound very appealing after a couple of episodes of Masterchef.
Same as the shower, however, the kitchen is another shared space that can feel cramped very quickly.
Especially for peak timings like breakfast and lunch, you may want to consider agreeing on timings for kitchen usage between housemates. Missing a meal because the stove was already in use by someone else can be easily avoided with a bit of communication.
You’ll also want to be a good housemate and make sure you wash and clean whatever you’ve used immediately after so that it’s ready for the next person’s culinary undertaking.
4. Lastly, remember to take care of yourself
Working from home can take its toll on you emotionally and psychologically.
Whilst having a routine to keep yourself motivated and performing is important, having a routine to ensure you unplug and get adequate rest is equally important.
Without the physical divide of “work” and “home” and the familiar rhythms of the office, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working all day and night, stressing about being productive all the time.
Set working hours and stick to them. Avoid opening your laptop first thing when you wake up and try not to work from your bed. Take a break every once in a while, and attempt to have a change of scene (eg the couch, the living room) if you can.
Have a time to quit and make plans for how you’re going to spend the evening, even if it’s as simple as making soup or to use one of your many face masks.
With some communication and coordination, working from home with your housemates can be easier.
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