Talking Points

a woman working from home - sat at her desk

How to work from home when living in a house share

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the majority of the UK’s workforce working from home.

While some already were, and others have a handy spare room they can use as an office space, many young professionals have found themselves in the unexpected situation of working from home while living in a house share or flatshare.

Working from home with housemates brings a whole new set of issues to navigate. For example:

  • Who will work where?
  • How will you not disturb each other?
  • How will you make the house or flat feel like a workplace during working hours?

While it may not feel like the ideal scenario for you, we’ve put together this article to help you navigate a situation where three, five, or even eight of you are all working in the same house.

Don’t worry, it is possible!

Agree on workspaces

a man working from home on his laptop

Firstly, you need to agree on each housemate’s workspace. However, if there is a desirable spot — perhaps by a window — then it would be wise to operate on a rotation basis, so you all get a fair share of time there.

If that’s the case, just make sure you move all of your stuff with you — your housemate won’t want all your paperwork on their desk for the day!

Keep the house clean and tidy

As you’re all in the house a lot more than you usually would be, all the key areas will be getting more use, so it’s essential to keep the house clean and tidy.

Nobody wants to work in a mess, and low standards of cleanliness could undoubtedly have an impact upon house morale, productivity and motivation.

Make it fair — if you don’t usually use a rota, now’s the time to draw one up. After all, you’re all going to spending the same amount of time at home.

Of course, if one of you prefers a specific chore or can’t stand hoovering (for example), then try and work that into your rota too.

Treat your housemates like colleagues

During working hours, treat your housemates like colleagues. This will help you all to be conscious of how what you do or say will impact each other.

For example, if you have an open plan living area where you’re all working, it would be unwise to cook fish for lunch without consulting everyone.

Likewise, while you might like to work with music in the background, your housemates may not — have the discussion and wear headphones if music will disturb others.

When it comes to work calls, decide between you if you’d prefer those to be taken in private or if you’re all okay with calls being made in the communal area.

Communicate about calls

working from home - video call

Most of us will need to take phone or video calls while working from home. After you’ve decided where those are to be made, if it’s fine to stay in the communal area, it’s essential to communicate with each other in advance about each call.

Not only is this polite but it also avoids a clash in calls; if you’ve ever been on a call at the same time as the person sat next to you, you’ll know what we mean!

Regarding calls, it’s also important to remember that your housemates are professionals and, tempting as it is, now is not the time to interrupt their calls for a laugh, make strange noises in the background, or pull faces at them.

If you must do that, save it for personal calls!

Schedule breaks

It’s more important than ever to look after yourself, and this includes taking regular breaks throughout the day.

Keep up camaraderie by making drinks for each other, of course, but make sure you all get up and move around during the working day.

For something to look forward to, you could agree on a time for lunch and sit and eat together. Or you could all use your lunch break for your daily exercise and go for a walk together (but don’t forget to practice social distancing at all times).

Finish work on time

We’re living in unprecedented circumstances; don’t work late. Instead, look after yourself when you finish work. Cook some food, watch your favourite show and catch up with loved ones.

As you’re now working together, your housemates and yourself will probably be needing a bit more space than usual, but make sure you schedule in some quality time to spend together when you’re not working.

Do you all love Ru Paul’s Drag Race? Agree to gather and watch two episodes of that each Thursday night, for example. Make a night of it — have a few drinks and cook a delicious dinner together.

If you have any other tips for people working from home in house shares in Leeds and across the UK, then please do let us know over on Twitter or Facebook.

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