How to work from home with housemates

Now the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the UK into lockdown, a lot of us are having to work from home.

But few of us have dreamy home offices set up and ready to go – or a spare room that can easily house a proper desk.

How exactly are you supposed to get work done when you’re in a houseshare with your housemates, all of whom also want the space, peace, and quiet to get stuff done?

How are you supposed to feel like you’re in a workplace if you’re locked up in your bedroom so your other housemate can use the dining table?

We chatted to Charlotte Davies, one of LinkedIn’s career experts, for her advice on working at home with family members or housemates sharing the same space. Here are her essential tips.

Treat your housemates like coworkers… at least in working hours

‘Respecting other people’s space and working schedules just as you would in the office is super important,’ says Charlotte. ‘While chatting about non-work related stuff can offer some light relief, consider housemates as akin to colleagues and treat them with professionalism during working hours.’

That means not allowing yourselves to slip into your usual lounging about ordering pizza and watching TV, or getting into chat about who needs to take the bins out during office hours.

Treat your working space like an office

Just as you wouldn’t spread all your paperwork over someone else’s desk in the office, make sure everyone in the home has their own area to work that’s been clearly determined – even if you do have to rotate so everyone gets fair access to the spot by the window.

Be conscious of noise, smells, and all the other things you would be in an office. If you know everyone’s working in the living room, which is right by the kitchen, perhaps don’t heat up some days-old fish.

Agree whether you’d all like background music or prefer quiet, if Zoom calls should be taken in bedrooms or if you’re all okay with them happening in the communal space, and don’t be a dick when someone’s on a call – no, yelling out rude words while someone’s on a video chat with their boss isn’t funny.

Communicate your schedule

Charlotte says: ‘With face-to-face meetings taking a backseat for the moment, the number of important calls and video calls will greatly increase. Be sure to vocalise any important meetings you may have to each other, so you can get peace and quiet when you need it.

‘Designating each other specific workspaces at home, so you all have boundaries during working hours, may also be helpful.’

It’s also helpful to define your exact working times – when does the communal space go from an office to your living area? When are you able to chat about non-work stuff? When should your housemate give you a gentle nudge to ditch your laptop and switch off for a bit?

Keep the house tidy

With everyone cooped up at home, things are going to get messy.

Try to schedule in some tidying time every day – just 15 minutes once you’re done working will make a world of difference.

Not only will a clean and tidy environment help you stay focused, but it will also avoid any shouting matches over the washing up midway through your working day.

Schedule break times

‘While you’re all at home, schedule in time to socialise to break up the day and give yourself something to look forward to,’ says Charlotte. ‘Agree to eat lunch together, cook with one another in the evenings or agree some time to watch a film or a new series together.’

Make the most of having other people in the house and make sure that along with getting your work done, you’re still making time to relax and connect with pals.

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