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6 tips for working remotely when you’re not home alone

Many of us are working alongside our significant others, family members and/or roommates for the first time — competing for limited space and internet connection while experiencing far too much “togetherness.” It can be challenging to maintain personal space and promote positive interactions in a multi-person household. The good news? It is possible to cohabit without driving your friends and loved ones crazy. Here are tips for navigating the sometimes-fun, sometimes-frustrating experience of sharing a working and living space with roommates and significant others.

1.     Create structure

Eliminate distractions and interruptions by establishing clear boundaries, such as designated workspaces and individual office hours. If your workspace has a door, be clear that when the door is closed you are not to be disturbed. Share your daily work hours, including important meeting times. Post them on a whiteboard or fridge.

2.     Create a shared-workspace schedule

Make a list of common-area workspaces, such as the dining table, living room sofa or patio. Create a schedule for who will use them at which times. Rotate the schedule regularly to give everyone an opportunity to use popular areas.

3.     Be mindful of sounds

Discuss phone/Zoom meeting etiquette to articulate your needs and set guidelines. If you have to participate in a particularly sensitive meeting, let your household know in advance. Take meetings in lower-traffic areas and use a headset to minimize distractions.

4.     Make time to connect

Regularly schedule meals or breaks together. Proactively check in on everyone’s well-being; ask whether they need anything from you. Be active together: Take a walk, try an online fitness class or guided meditation, or just dance around the living room. Activities that allow you to get into a flow are key to stress relief.

5.     Be patient

We are living in an unprecedented time, and this experience is stirring up a lot of emotions in everyone. If you’re feeling tense and stressed, chances are that other people in your household are too. Touch base, take time to listen and give people the benefit of the doubt.

6.     Practice self-care

Meeting your own needs allows you to be a source of strength for others. Schedule breaks, practice gratitude, take time to clear your head and articulate what you need. Make time every day to do something you enjoy for at least 30 minutes. If you need support in managing your work-at-home situation, contact UCOP’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

For more tools and resources, visit the UCOP Culture and Connectivity Initiative page.

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