Remote working is a great solution for anyone desiring flexibility in tandem with a great work-life balance and an overall less stressful life. However, at times, certain factors can potentially interfere with the many brilliant benefits that arise from working from home - one such factor being living in a houseshare. Whilst many of those living in house shares are Gen Zs and Millennials, according to the 2021 Census in the UK, the average age of those living in shared accommodation has risen in recent years. This blog will look at the difficulties that remote-working house-sharers may face, as well as the solutions to these challenges and how leaders can support them along the way.
1) What team members can do to support themselves
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Like many issues that come up when you live in a shared house, communicating with the people you live with is central to fostering a successful environment. How do you expect your flatmates to know not to interrupt your Monday 9am to discuss what went down that weekend if they don’t know you have a meeting then? From the outset, tell the people you live with your working hours and when you will need quiet. Any good housemate will respect this and also should be able to rely on you to be respectful of their situation if they also work remotely.
CREATING A DESIGNATED SPACE
Keeping a defined space where you will work most of the time is important. Most often in a house share, the best place is your own bedroom. Set up a desk to work – don’t work from bed – equipped with everything you’ll need. Here you can close the door and reasonably expect not to be interrupted.
CHANGE IT UP!
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. When working remotely in a shared house, that’s certainly the case. As much as we love our flatmates (most of the time!) working from a different space, once a week, can offer welcome respite from each other. This could be in the form of a local café, a world class art gallery or the library down the road. Shaking up your work environment and getting space from your housemates can do wonders for your productivity!
Finally, be respectful and realistic. In a shared house, there will inevitably sometimes be some interruption. That’s the reality of living together. Also, if you are expecting people to be respectful of your working patterns, be respectful of theirs. Be quiet in the hours your fellow housemates are themselves remote working, or if they have an early morning shift on Saturday, don’t TGIF too hard. If you do work from a communal space, tidy away your work equipment when you’re done for the day. Working remotely in a shared house successfully is just an extension of living together successfully and is all about communication, respect and tolerance.
2) What leaders can do to support team members
LEADING WITH EMPATHY
It's paramount that leaders are aware of differing work circumstances amongst their teams. Some may live in house shares where they may not easily be able to jump onto a video call at short notice, others may have families and childcare commitments, making it difficult to be as flexible. A good idea is for leaders to ask team members about what support they need during onboarding, remaining mindful of differing circumstances as time goes on. Allowing for flexibility can really help here as well. Asking each member of the team to explicitly state their meeting availability on a shared calendar can also be useful in order to create transparency across the board.
PROVISION OF NECESSARY RESOURCES
As acknowledged earlier, it is important to segment life and work as much as possible as a remote worker so as to avoid burning out. For those living in a house share, it can be difficult to do this if there is a shared communal area which does not cater well towards working. The solution - creating a ‘home office’ within the bedroom. Leaders can help with this by giving each member of their team a ‘budget’ to help ensure they have all the equipment necessary to create an effective work setting in the personal space that they have. If team members are still struggling, subsidising their access to a coworking space local to them may be just the ticket. Once all team members have the necessary resources for remote working, they’ll find it much easier to produce their best, leading to a stronger, happier team as a result.