Sharing inside our home with workmates
Our home currently is the home office for two full-time employees, one college student and one high-school student who is full-time remote. We all have our designated workspaces, separated by doors. My son is working on his first year of college from his bedroom and at times is caught up in this social time on the PS4 and bellows out the F word, while my husband is directly below his room, in the basement, on an international call with an important client. I storm into my son’s room with all the rage possible on my face and in the quietest voice that he can hear, I tell him to shut up, that we are on calls, that his sister is in class. This is when our home is at its breaking point. I know we are not the only family functioning like this inside their home. I know that I can’t be the only woman who is working full time from home, but still holds the title of ‘Lunch lady Doris’.
Working from home during a lockdown looks different in every home you walk past. Some have younger children home who are trying their best to learn in a new way, to sit at home where the rules have always been different than in the classroom. My own son started his college program from his bedroom. For us, two teenagers and two adults all requiring the demands of the internet resulted in bumping up our internet package and upgrading our wireless router. But it also meant so much more. As we are slowly moving towards the pandemic coming to an end, many homes will find themselves with someone still working from home. We do not know what the future will be, or if we will hit the fourth wave and experience another lockdown. Here is what has helped us function.
Manners make a difference
I will call us all adults as my youngest is 16. We have had to work harder at being respectful of our personal volume. All of us at times are ‘live’ on calls. We have had to take turns caring for our dogs as they have become comfortable and more demanding of our time. We have had to learn to treat each other like we treat others at work or at school, which can be very different than how we treat each other at home. I have always struggled with why we tend to be more rude or short-tempered with our family nucleus. Why do we expect so much more of them than we do our co-workers?
Making friends with your technology
One thing we had to do immediately was bump up our internet and purchase a better router. We also made sure that everyone had a workspace in their rooms along with a proper monitor in addition to the laptop. This was something we did not hesitate to do.
Call your internet provider. When you discuss the internet, I want you to picture the service as water coming through the garden hose. The more water you have coming out of the hose the faster the speed, but then the water collects into something. The more devices (buckets) you have the more water you need. Fast internet is great but remember to manage the number of devices you have connected to it. Our home can have 4 laptops, 4 phones, google chrome casts, a PS4. When we are having connection problems, we begin by removing devices that are using the internet in the background while they are still turned on.
If you don’t already share with others your schedule, I recommend that you do so now. Much like working with co-workers, we talk about when someone needs the car, when they are planning to be on a call with clients or when someone is writing a test or exam. We use a classic family-sized calendar in the kitchen to help. It also helps that we eat dinner as a family every night. We have also been able to mostly eat lunch together providing there are no meetings or classes scheduled.
Location, location, location
My husband works in the basement, my son is directly above him. He has global customers that he has calls with. It is rare but has happened that my son has been into his online gaming and has shouted out words that we all would rather not hear. Fortunately, this has not come up with my husband’s work or his clients, so we are hoping that they didn’t hear it. It could also be that they are grateful that another family struggles with the same dynamics. It is not uncommon for there to be a barking dog, a cat walking by or a small child enters the room while on these calls. They have become more accepted during these times, when we are home, when we are working in the place that we live.
Dress for the job you want not for the zoom call you’re on
Another super tip for working from your home is to get dressed every morning. Shower and put on your office attire. Skip wearing jammies to your desk. Getting ready for work as usual will help your mindset. Every day my husband showers, puts on his usual dress pants and shirt to help him feel that he is going to work. It is easy to fall into a slump of too casual, but trust me, being dressed and looking professional is important, you never know when you are going to get the unexpected zoom call.
Separation of the church and state
The same goes for your workspace. Don’t watch Netflix at night from the same space that you work from during the day. If you have a small home and need to create some separation, a simple privacy screen can go a long way. It will stop you from looking around and thinking about vacuuming the floor, doing the laundry, and keep your eyes from connecting with the sad puppy dog eyes coming from your pets.
We are moving forward into the new world of full remote, partially remote, or full-back to the office work. Different companies will have different work environments. As we continue for many, working remotely for 18 months, our home office environments need to become better. There will be less forgiveness for not having your camera on, for unnecessary interruptions, and poor internet connections. The pandemic made us pivot to accepting remote work and now, I predict we will need to level up.