5 lessons I learned sharing my home office

by Leo Wiles
10 August 2018

While there are things I truly miss about being in-house with other likeminded people, opening my home office to a colleague has never been on the top of my to do list. This probably because I’m solitary by nature, especially when writing.

However, I recently found this very situation forced upon me. An NBN outage that lasted almost ten business days led to me extending an offer to my pal, an NGO social media manager, to come share my WiFi.

While I haven’t completely come around to the idea, I can certainly see the upsides. Including the realisation that working alongside someone makes you accountable and therefore less likely to procrastinate, leading to more productivity. Plus, testing out a turn of phrase, letting rip about what you should have said to that late paying client or bouncing ideas off another adult makes for far better answers than anything my furry office companions have offered to date.

That said, I learned some valuable lessons about sharing your home office space…

1. Sniffles are a no-go.

It’s not just the tear-my-hair-out sniffling I object to, but the possibility that once you darken the welcome mat with even the slightest form of lurgy, I may catch it.

2. Choose your foodstuffs wisely.

I run my home office like a darkened movie theatre; nothing crunchy or smelly unless you want to be banished outside with your lunchbox.

3. Timing is everything.

Laughing out loud is one thing when trying to share the joke… but when I am mid flow this is punishable by death. Similarly, small talk and I are best attempted after a second cup of coffee.

4. Office attire means different things to different people.

Wearing a bra and/or something other than PJs seems to be the preferred work practice attire for those who share your space and wish to Skype with you in the background – whoops!

5. Gossip after hours.

It’s tough, especially if your office mate is the type of person with endlessly entertaining anecdotes to impart. But I’ve learned the hard way you can whittle away a whole day on idle chit-chat (meaning you work into the small hours later to catch up).

Which leads me to suggest that a little bit of time spent formalising the arrangement and agreeing to a few rules beforehand would go a long way.

Do you share your home office? What are some essential home office rules you’ve established?

Leo Wiles

Leo Wiles has worked as an editor, journalist and PR for over 20 years before recently retraining as a photographer. These days, she spends her time behind a lens, juggling her own clients with her work at Rachel's List, and her three gorgeous but lively kids.

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