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The Rules You Should Follow When Working From Home (So Your Neighbours Don't Hate You)

Working from home is a fine balance to get right at the best of times but with the added stress of a literal pandemic, getting that balance right has never been more important.

As a freelance writer, I have spent part of the last two weeks working from my upstairs ‘girl cave’ (aka the home office) for years now.

While doing that, I have managed to not alienate anyone I live with or next door to. I still receive a friendly 'hello' or wave if I cross paths with my neighbour.

Shona Hendley. Image: Supplied

And the winning formula all comes down to following some working from home 'rules' (yes, this is a real thing). It’s these very important rules that will prevent your neighbours (or the people you live with) from hating you while you work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Turn the music down

While working from home can allow a little bit more personal flexibility and authority over your working environment because you no longer have to think of your co-workers as much, just remember you still have neighbours!

So, no, no one needs to hear your 90’s RnB pumping while you work (wait is this just me?), your hardcore metal or how bassy you can get your wicked sound system to go.

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While you may enjoy the tunes as you work away, the person next door may not appreciate them so much as they are on their international conference call to the CEO or as they are visiting their nan to check in on her as she self-isolates.

But if you really like the music loud and it helps your productivity, just remember to wear some headphones.

2. Keep all noise to a respectable level

While we are on the topic of noise -- phone calls, video calls and Skype do not need to be broadcast to the entire nation. So keep the volume at a level where you can hear it but not so your neighbour across the street can.

3. Don't forget about privacy

While video calls and the like are so important to stay connected to your workplace when working remotely, allowing you to really check in on someone, they can also be a minefield. From visiting children, computer loving cats, to nudist partners…. or even neighbours depending on where you live (or who you live next to) -- not everything is suitable for the background of your video call.

Shona and her youngest daughter. Image: Supplied

If you are in close proximity to your neighbours -- like an apartment building, unit or flat, I’d suggest conducting your video call in a dedicated space that doesn’t directly face onto their home. That way you:

a). Won’t disrupt people next door with your thoughts and opinions on which software update is best for your photo editing needs. And:

b). It also reduces the chance that an inadvertent neighbour may appear in the background doing whatever it is they are doing at their home.

4. Put the tools down

Weekday working hours are not the time from home improvements -- not any more.

The coronavirus climate is unique and unprecedented so if you are at home, thinking it is the time to get your home improvements done, the type that involve loud tools or machinery (aka jack hammers), just don’t.

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The last thing anyone needs while they are trying to conduct their job from a location that is probably nowhere near as well equipped as their actual workplace, is the sound of Johnny from next door deciding it’s time to re-surface his driveway or to fix the engine is his V16 car while continually revving it for hours at a time.

5. Think about those in your home as well as next door

And finally, if you have a housemate or working from home partner, your working etiquette is even more imperative to get right and a much more intricate balance to work out.

Start by considering your home as a co-working facility during the day. Unless you are employed in the same role at the same organisation it is likely your jobs are going to be different, in some cases very different.

While some roles involve lots of phone communication, others may need peace and quiet to focus on the tasks that they need to do. Setting up specific working areas, boundaries and rules in order to prevent some disgruntled conversations (i.e. screaming matches) that may cause your neighbours to want to then scream at you, is a must.

Oh and same goes for keeping your working spaces clean because unlike our usual working environments, we can’t just log off and head home and come back to it the next day.

Featured image: Supplied