The pros and cons of working from home are likely familiar to most of us by now. As the impact of the pandemic has spread and carried on for longer than most people expected, companies are coming to embrace remote work as part of their long-term plans.
Meanwhile, the students of today are preparing themselves for a future where many jobs are likely to involve some form of remote work. Even if you don’t work from home now, you might have to consider learning some skills that could enable you to do so in the event of future disruption. At some point, an increasing number of households will have multiple members who work remotely.
When you share a home with other remote workers, situations come up that you don’t normally have to deal with. It can be like having to share an office space with other employees, but absent supervision. Rather than focus on handling potential conflicts, you want to avoid them if possible. And investigating an optimal home setup can help you with that.
One space won’t fit all
The design of our homes has evolved continuously over the years. But it’s safe to say that most homes haven’t been designed to serve as fully-functional offices. In a pinch, you can convert one room into a suitable workspace.
But if that same space needs to serve two or more people with different working needs, you can expect problems to arise. It’s hard enough to stay focused on a video conference, but what if there are several of them going on in the same room?
Your devices can be a distraction as you do your job. They pose the same threat to your cohabitants who’re also working. And in turn, their devices can affect you. Things can get even more complicated when remote work involves creative tasks, such as recording or editing a video.
It takes over 20 minutes, on average, to recover from a distraction and resume full focus on what you were doing. And there are other complications to deal with. Partners, friends, and family members can all get along under normal circumstances, but we can behave differently when we put our work gloves on. People can become more irritable or annoying to be around when the stress of work kicks in.
Making more space
Working from home alone usually means solving problems with a twofold approach. You make some space for your new office by clearing out the clutter. And you set some boundaries with the other members of your household so that they know to adjust.
With multiple remote workers sharing a home, those boundaries start to push against each other. And for many homes, there’s only so much space to go around. If you somehow have enough spare rooms, you could move many items into a self-storage unit and give everybody their own home office.
What if that’s not feasible? Outdoor spaces can present a convenient solution. You still get to stay within range of your wireless network while also enjoying a bit of the relaxation that nature provides.
Whether it’s your patio or a balcony, you’ll want to take measures against the outside conditions. The weather won’t always cooperate, so a retractable curtain or even a large umbrella can provide the protection you and your devices need. While you’re at it, bring out some comfortable, weather-resistant furniture. And shore up against the occasional loss of power or connectivity with battery back-ups and Wi-Fi mesh extenders.
Working with time
Space limitations might still mean that you end up sharing even an outdoor office with others. That doesn’t have to be an issue if you can effectively manage your time together, though.
Remote teams are always using collaboration platforms, and these provide the perfect in-house solution for an entire household of remote workers. You can all upload, sync, and track each other’s schedules so that new meetings, for instance, can be arranged around inflexible events.
Staggering your schedules can also have other benefits. If everyone uses the internet at the same hours during the day, bandwidth consumption can be affected. Multiple ongoing video calls might suffer a loss of quality. Those problems can be solved if someone takes the graveyard shift.
Doing so can also allow some individuals to discover more productive patterns based on their sleep chronotype. We don’t all experience peak alertness or effectiveness in the morning. ‘Wolf’-types can enjoy the transition to a later work schedule.
A total home makeover would be ideal. You’d get to design a space that fits the changing needs of your household. But when that option isn’t available, make the most of what you have, and configure space and time to suit everyone’s needs in the best possible way.