The Battlefield: What Does Working From Home Mean For Share House Living?
Picture this. I’m seated at the dining table, finishing an email whilst enjoying what could be my greatest attempt at spag-bol yet. The perfected dish only metres away from my three housemates who are couch-bound, aggressively celebrating another clean up on the Call of Duty battlefield.
This isn’t a scene you’ll see depicted in the media as they describe the stresses in the shift to working from home.
In your home, you can do what you want. However, for a group of strangers, this defines a collective experience. In these unprecedented times of unemployment and working/studying from home there are massive implications for what a share-house looks like in 2020. Offices work as everyone is focused on a larger goal or at least productivity. Workplaces function on people abiding by a set of rules, but within a share house, the lines get blurred and things become complicated.
Will we ever select a housemate again in the same way? Do the inevitably awkward interviews morph to become somewhat closer to ones you’d expect for a job, as we pitch for not only a house but an office during these changing times?
As the home becomes the place of business, how do the expectations of a work setting apply (if they have any application at all?
The late nights of expensing Uber Eats are all but gone. Friday beers are at the house rather than on it. Your housemate’s tea isn’t complimentary, but the biscuits could be fair game. Regardless, you certainly can’t leave those dirty dishes in the kitchen.
Communication is key and you certainly can’t remain on mute, but you can’t resolve conflict with a housemate like you might a co-worker, especially when they become one in the same. With the strike of the global pandemic, working and spending more time at home has pushed me, and assumably others to the edge of their share-house tenancies.
You wouldn’t bring your mate from another agency into the office to trawl through the ideas up on the wall, but how does that work if you’re living with a competing agency/client?
Changing jobs is an exciting moment in anyone’s career. The optimism and excitement of things to come is a huge milestone. But how does that feel when you're still looking at the same four walls, and same roommates, that you were before? Has anything actually changed at all?
Could moving share-house feel like starting a new job? Or is it more of how a breakup would feel with the addition of 4 and a bit weeks notice to get that precious bond back.
Like career progression, I’ve always believed every share house should be better than your last. This has never been more true than when it’s also your place of work. The time killed in staring into the bathroom mirror at work should be the same whilst at home. So choose wisely.
However, confronting the mutual autonomy of others within your own home is possibly the most exciting part of shared living and, now, working. Maybe you’ll get an insight into a totally different office and decide you would want it, or quite the opposite! In our most formative years, there’s value in this. Life experience, and applying a bit of perspective to the moments we all experience within the confines of a subletted set of four walls should be on everyone’s journey to levelling up in adulthood. Maybe COVID has brought this forward for some of us; myself included.
They’ve turned the Call of Duty off now, so I can take out my headphones and stop writing.