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How to manage work from home in co-living?


Since the spread of Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns becoming more common, millions of employees across the globe have been asked to work from home. While this was a change that was welcomed by many in the beginning, these past few months have made us realise the challenges involved in being able to successfully work from home.

For individuals who live in co-living spaces, the work from home option has come with its own set of challenges and benefits. A co-living facility is where one can take a room for rent, often with an en-suite bathroom and shared facilities that can include a kitchen, communal lounge and more. Co-living has gained popularity in recent years as young professionals are looking for low-investment but high-on-convenience living arrangements. Now, because of the pandemic, many professionals are having to work from their rooms. 

Infrastructure 

To successfully work from home, employees need to set up a workplace in their living space that includes at least a comfortable sitting arrangement (like a table and chair), a laptop and good internet connectivity. These are still easily manageable, but some aspects such as an easily accessible printer and communal lounges are taken for granted in an office but can be difficult to arrange at home. 

In this aspect, co-living facilities are slightly better equipped than individual houses. For example, all Coliwoo rooms include ergonomically designed workstations that can be comfortably used for long working hours. The properties also have high-speed internet connection and there are also onsite printing and scanning facilities for use by tenants. This has helped the residents work from home comfortably. 

The Balbin Family residing at Coliwoo @ Lutheran say – “The excellent internet connection and on-site printing/scanning services allow greater productivity, which is a great perk for those working from home.”

Social interactions 

As humans, we enjoy face-to-face interactions and in-person social gatherings – be it as simple as having tea breaks together. These occasions have long served our sub-conscious social and emotional need to ‘be a part’ of a group. With the lockdown in place, social interactions have been reduced. It has been especially challenging for people who live alone or away from their families. Technology provided some relief with video calling but that could never completely replace being in the presence of each other.

In co-living facilities, this problem is avoided to a certain extent through the communal spaces that are used by all tenants. Many residents of co-living reported that they would prefer a co-living facility over a solo house for rent in Singapore. For example, at Coliwoo@ Boon Lay the social kitchen and the reading lounge provided the tenants with much-needed socializing and a feeling of togetherness. 

Mr. Danny Chua, a resident of Coliwoo @ Boon Lay says – “As I work from home, the great greenery view lets me de-stress when I need a break and stay productive for extended periods. To me, Coliwoo @ Boon Lay is not just a place to live but a community with a shared ethos, inspiration, and freedom.”

Health and physical fitness

Before the pandemic, people travelled to various places for different things – work was in office, health was in gym, and entertainment was in cinemas or shopping malls. But as work came home, it also started creeping into the time previously earmarked for other activities. Thus, today even as work from home is becoming the norm, people are finding it difficult to give time to other priorities in life like fitness, hobbies, relaxation, and entertainment. For families, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the boundaries between work-time and family-time. And for singles, it is especially tougher being mostly alone in their living space. 

Co-living facilities have not only helped people stay connected, many of them have also helped their residents stay fit and healthy. Some co-living apartments in Singapore like the Coliwoo @ Boon Lay have an expansive in-house gym complete will all the fitness equipment and set-up. Residents are finding these amenities particularly useful to maintain their physical fitness as well as to stay connected with other members of the community. 

Mental well being

The National CARE Hotline was launched in April 2020 to provide psychological first aid and emotional support during the Covid-19 outbreak. In its first two weeks of operation itself, it received over 6600 calls reflecting the anxiety and fear of the people. Over time, fear and anxiety have also been supplemented by depression, lack of hope, and loneliness. Part of it is because of the inability to step out and take part in outdoor activities, and loss of social support which are important coping mechanisms. 

The communal living atmosphere and the different events conducted at co-living facilities have helped placate these problems for the residents to a certain extent. Coliwoo has conducted events like virtual workshops and online fitness sessions for its residents that have increased interactions within the community, making tenants feel more engaged and connected. The green surroundings and well-organized facilities like the reading lounge provide a peaceful and positive environment that has helped residents stay stress-free in these highly testing times. 

While work from home may be here to stay for some time, everyone is still struggling with the challenges it brings and its impact on work-life balance. Co-living accommodations in their own way are trying to help their residents cope with these challenges and have a healthy personal and professional life. 

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