COVID-19: managing community living and working from home

With strata properties and homes being turned into temporary workplaces, here are some important things to consider for yourself and those around you while working from home.

To make sure your working from home experience is as good as it can be during COVID-19, for you and your neighbours, we have developed practical tips to make these changes a little easier.

 

Make sure your home workstation is safe

Typically, before you start working from home, your employer would go through a checklist to make sure your remote work environment is safe and risk-free. With COVID-19 becoming such a sudden issue, many employers haven’t had the time or resources to follow these standard protocols. Instead, you should self-assess your working from home setup, so it’s safe, comfortable, and practical.

Check your home work environment for

  • An appropriate workstation: watch for cords and trip hazards, keep your workstation tidy, remove waste appropriately, have an evacuation plan and clear paths, make sure you have a first aid kit, and only use working electrical appliances
  • Ergonomics: make sure you have a comfortable chair and desk and be conscious of how you are sitting. For example, face your screen straight-on, change postures throughout the day and don’t twist from the hips. For more information about best practice ergonomics for computer-workstations visit here
  • Be mindful of the elements: make sure you have appropriate lighting, minimise glare, and make sure your room is not too hot or cold

Stay connected with your team and colleagues 

While some people love working from home, reducing commute times and preventing COVID-19, it can also become lonely and make people feel disconnected. While we are required at this stage to stay physically distant, we don’t have to become socially disconnected, particularly from our teams.

Aim to have at least one face-to-face conversation with a team member each day using technology. This will help maintain a sense of team-mateship, comradery, and connection. Communicating with your team will help you to remain proactive and task-focused.

It can be helpful to talk to your team members about something non-work related too. Give them a call and ask if they are okay and see how things are going. This can make a big difference to people’s lives and mental health.

 

Follow a routine and get out of your pyjamas

Research has shown following a routine has far-reaching benefits, including alleviating anxiety, stress, insomnia and various mental illnesses. In fact, Headspace, the government-funded mental health program, says routines have a soothing effect because they are something we can do well and control. This is particularly helpful when going through tough, mostly uncontrollable, times like COVID-19.

Follow a good routine, such as

  • Get up and get dressed
  • Don’t work from bed
  • Work at a proper workstation that is comfortable
  • Have set breaks and meals as you would at work
  • Get some exercise
  • Have relaxation time
  • Go to bed a similar hour every night
  • Reduce screen time before bed
  • Get good and restful sleep

While many people find it tempting to work from bed, the Australian Sleep Health Foundation says beds should be kept for sleeping and intimacy only. Citing that reading, working, making phone calls and watching television, make sleeping harder because they break the neurological pathways that associate bed with sleeping.

 

Make time for things that make you happy

Looking-out for our mental health is critically important to a successful work from home stint. Make sure you make time for things that make you happy that aren’t work-related.

Try

  • Reading a good book
  • Going for a walk outside or sitting in the sun (remembering social distancing regulations)
  • Downloading a home exercise or yoga class
  • Write a journal or try creating something
  • Work on a puzzle
  • Go on a digital museum tour (visit here for some the world’s leading digital museum tours)
  • Cook something healthy your mind and body will benefit from

 

Follow a normal workday and have boundaries 

The lines between what’s work time and private life can be blurred when you start working from home. Remember to stick to your set work hours and what’s normally expected of you. Start and finish your days as you normally would.

 

Make sure you abide by your by-laws or building rules

Spending more time at home means we should be increasingly aware of our by-laws. By-laws are in place for a good reason and control things such as noise, whether pets are permitted, nuisance or hazardous smoking, damage to plants on common property, and hanging out of washing.

When working from home, be mindful of

  • Where you take work phone calls
  • If you have smoking breaks, where the smoke from your cigarette could be going
  • If your work requires playing music or making sound, how loud you are being
  • If you like to listen to the radio as you work, how loud you have the radio

The longer we spend in our homes, the more we will want to branch out with our home activities. Be mindful of what you can and cannot do on your property, particularly with physical distancing rules in place, closure of different amenities like gyms and pools, and reducing the spread and transmission of COVID-19.

 

Be courteous of your neighbours

Being courteous and mindful of our neighbours should always be part and parcel of community living. However, with COVID-19 introducing Australians to extenuating circumstances, property owners and occupants should be more considerate than usual.

Not only will there be an influx of people working from home, often requiring quiet time, we will also see an increase in sick people at home too. Try and keep noises that would disrupt others to a minimum and hold back on unnecessary works.

If neighbours aren’t following isolation and distancing rules to keep our communities safe, this could be a breach of the Public Health Act or some of the new COVID-19 legislation that’s trying to keep our communities safe.

To receive regular COVID-19 updates and tips for managing community living, sign up here. Alternatively, if you have any strata property related questions, post your question to StrataFAQ.com.au.

 

Note: We are not in the position to provide health advice and we encourage you to keep up-to-date with the guidance provided by the Australian Government on their website, visit here. If you have concerns around your home workstation and setup seek professional legal advice or visit Fair Work.