Tips for Working from Home with Everyone
Education| By Kate Barracosa | September 29, 2020
These top working from home tips make it easy to manage your workload while the rest of your household does, too.
After weeks – if not months – in close confines, we’re all more accustomed to the idea of remote working alongside our spouses, housemates, kids and pets. More than 4.3 million Australians have been working from home since the beginning of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and it’s a safe assumption that not all of those people live alone. So how do you manage a household when everyone is trying to do their jobs as well? These working from home tips make it easier to organise everyone’s conflicting schedules for a house that’s happy.
Setting Boundaries That Suit Everyone
Some of us will relish the chance for deep work that comes with the solitude of working from home; others will miss the opportunity to bounce ideas off colleagues or share silly memes you come across on social media. Everyone works differently and if this is the first time you’re truly understanding how other members of your household work, it will take trial and error to find a rhythm.
So, how to start setting the boundaries that suits different needs? It’s all about communication. Flag when you don’t want to be disturbed ahead of time, or create a signal that you’re in flow, such as putting on noise-cancelling headphones (you could even take a leaf out of your teenager’s book and stick a “Keep Out” sign on the door).
Want to chat through an issue or idea? Give your partner or housemate a few minutes’ warning to check they’re available first rather than interrupting them unannounced.
What To Try
- Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones Black ZX110NC
- JBL Tune Wireless On-ear noise-cancelling headphones 600BTNC
- Sandleford Keep Out Private Property Self Adhesive Sign
Managing Different Schedules
Does your workplace have a WIP via Zoom every morning, just as your partner likes to make a round of phone calls? Or does your uni student teen need to focus on an assessment, just as you’re taking a client meeting? Conflicting schedules can be a key disruptor for home-office harmony, so ease any clashes by becoming aware of what each other’s days look like.
Create a shared Google calendar, with a different colour for each member of your household, that tracks meeting times, appointments and breaks. Each person is responsible for filling out their plan before the day begins – if it doesn’t exist on the calendar, it doesn’t exist. Prefer to keep things analog? Draw a timetable on a whiteboard or big piece of cardboard that everyone adds to as their calendar fills up. And stick it in a spot that gives everyone visibility, such as the fridge.
What To Try
Step One on the working from home tips checklist: make sure your internet connection can handle the increased load of multiple devices firing from nine to five. Call your provider to ensure you have the speeds to meet your needs (and the best deal) or consider buying mesh networking products to boost the wi-fi signal throughout your house. This will ensure connectivity is easily achievable no matter where you’re set up in the house.
As for printers, tablets, headphones and other tech that might not be allocated on a one-per-person basis, check in with each other to see whose needs are greatest and create a roster (this could be done on another Google calendar tab or kept as simple as a sheet of paper that tracks who has what) so that everything is shared fairly. Also consider investing in new pieces of technology, especially if it looks like your extended household will be in the same space for a while longer. If you’re working from home, you might be eligible for specific deductions relating to your home office space. Check out our guide for more details.
What To Try
Finding a Place to Work
When you have two or more people working and learning from home, sorting out spaces for everyone to spend their days can get tricky pretty quickly – even if you have a home office or study, chances are you don’t have two! In fact, according to one survey, one in three are working from home on their kitchen or dining table. But this is still a great option – just make sure you set it up correctly.
Creating a designated space for each person with everything they need throughout the day is essential to productivity, even if that means packing away laptops and files from the dining table before dinner each evening. One study found that having a dedicated office also made it easier for people to switch out of work mode at the end of the day.
There’s also probably a room or spot in your house that’s highly sought-after for work or study. Perhaps it’s the room that’s quietest, has the strongest wi-fi link or is closest to the kitchen for surreptitious snacks. Be equitable in meeting each other’s needs: if someone needs complete silence to run through a presentation, consider giving up the soundproof room for an hour and instead whip through emails on your lap desk.