Working from home in a share house – tips
Living in a shared house while working or studying from home during the SA lockdown can be a tricky situation. This factsheet provides general tips on working and studying from home, dealing with roommates, and lease issues during this difficult time.
Working and studying from home
A share house is usually far from the ideal working environment; share houses can be crowded and often lack workspaces, proper heating and adequate internet. The following tips can help you to navigate the situation:
- Try to find a dedicated workspace that is separated from leisure spaces if possible. Speak with your housemates about how everyone wants to use the shared spaces.
- Use a supportive chair and prop up your computer so that it is at eye level.
- Staying active is especially important when you don’t have an ideal office setup, so try to find ways to move more throughout the day. Take lots of breaks, including breaks from screen time.
- Create boundaries with work and study responsibilities – many women find that their workloads have increased during the pandemic, in part due to working from home. Create a routine in which you start and finish work or study the same time every day.
- Remember to be kind to yourself – share houses are not designed with home offices, and there will be interruptions. It’s okay to achieve less than you normally would.
- Maintain social chats with colleagues or classmates online.
- Check whether you are entitled to reimbursement for working from home expenses, such as internet, computer accessories or stationary. Check your employment contract and Enterprise Agreement / Award. If you are unsure, you can contact the Working Women’s Centre for assistance.
Note: some of these tips are based on the SA Health Working from Home fact sheet.
Getting along with housemates
Your housemates are not always the people you would choose to spend every hour of every day with. Lockdowns are stressful and can bring out conflict and frustration.
There are some steps you can take to create a positive dynamic in a share house:
- Ask your housemates what they need during this time, and share what you need from them. For example, some people may want to spend a lot of time together to avoid feelings of isolation, others may need more personal space and alone time. Communicating needs and issues proactively can help to avoid tension and hurt.
- Be kind to each other, at a time when reactions might be heightened by anxiety and stress. Focus on creating an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance.
- Keep the house clean and tidy.
- If conflicts come up, focus on the issue, instead of the person. Avoid blaming others and do your best to work together to find a solution.
Note: Some of these tips are based on Housing & Residential education website.
- Have a conversation with your housemates about the COVID-19 precautions you expect from each other.
- If you, or any of your housemates are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, it is important to do everything you can to keep everyone safe.
- If anyone in your house needs to self-isolate or quarantine, follow the SA Health requirements and recommendations and call the COVID-19 Information Line for advice on 1800 253 787.
- Look after each other’s mental health. Check in regularly with your roommates and don’t be afraid to ask for help from them when you need. Asking “are you OK” and sharing a cuppa can go a long way.
- Seek support from mental health services such as Beyond Blue, or contact the SA Mental Health Triage Service on 13 14 65 for urgent support.
Fear of violence
- If a housemate makes you feel unsafe, you are allowed to leave your home to protect your safety during a lockdown.
- Call 000 if you are in immediate danger.
- Other support services for an emergency include Homeless Connect SA on 1800 003 308 and the DV Crisis Line on 1800 800 098.
Inconveniently, issues to do with your lease, or other rental issues can still arise during a lockdown.
If you have questions with regards to renting, be aware that:
- There are some extra measures in place to protect renters in relation to COVID-19, including a moratorium on evictions and protection for tenants who breach their agreement to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The SA Customer and Business Services website listed some of the common situations arising COVID-19 and general advice for landlords and tenants.
- According to current activity restrictions, on-site open inspections and auctions are banned in SA. If your landlord or real estate agency insists to take people in to inspect the property, you have the right to report them to the police.
- If your lease is due to end during the lockdown, you can still move house as long as the move date was set before lockdown started.
- To access advice on your rights as a renter, you can contact RentRight SA at 1800 060 462.
Note: Some of these tips are based on the SA Customer and Business Services website and RentRight SA website.