setting up shop for COVID-19

It’s only day three of working at home for me, but already there have been cracks and some hastily applied sealant. This isn’t a how-to guide. It’s simply a real account of working from home in the early days of Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Last week my partner and I assessed the situation. Well, I yelled at him that this was getting serious, threw an Ikea catalogue at him and told him I was going to take his ‘den’ as my new office area whether he liked it or not.

He came around to the idea on Saturday, and we braved Ikea to buy a number over overpriced shelving units. I had through to try the various second-hand options, but if you have ever dismantled Ikea furniture, you’ll understand you may as well set it alight, it’s never the same again.

The plan was simple, take our hideous and awkwardly long living room, put up a Kallax 5×5 as a room divider, have a smaller 2×4 as a second divider, and move our current office desk in there for him. We envisioned something like this, and I think we did ok.

Ikea’s infamous Kallax
Hard at work

We still have a little bit of work to do. Mainly putting on the doors and cable wrangling. But it as a 24 hour turn around.

I usually need to be alone when I’m working. Actually, it’s a must. I’m hypersensitive to noise. I wear earplugs when I sleep and have been known to verbally eviscerate anyone who clicks their pen. #OwningIt.

The backroom is a sort of sunroom/conservatory that would have been tacked onto our 1950s post-war brick veneer house sometime in the late 1960s. You know the type of house I’m talking about? Think inner suburban Melbourne, inbuilt melamine kitchen bench, lino flooring, awkward casement windows and closed off rooms (not open plan). You know…falling down.

Typical post-war houses in Melbourne (this is not my house).

The sunroom is separated from the ‘second bedroom’ by a sliding door, which oddly locks from inside the sunroom. It’s not a second bedroom, it’s too small. But that’s how it was advertised to us. Initially the second bedroom was used as an office, I’ve now claimed that as my space and at some point will set it up properly.. We moved all of his sporting gear our of the sunroom, as well as the sofa and TV. After he gutted it, I gave it a deep clean and ended up with this blank canvas.

Oh did I mention it had mould? The house had been treated from the mould the day before, I was grateful to get that done before the inevitable lockdown.

We ventured out to get what I needed to set up shop for who knows how long. Since we didn’t have a dining table, we decided that we would buy one and use it as a desk in the interim. I found this amazing extender 6 seater that goes to 10. It was originally $1200 but got it at $288. Not bad.

On Sunday night, I packed up my office at work and brought what felt like a forest worth of paper home. It was a bitter moment. I love my office at work, and since the department is moving campus in April (or not), I knew that this would be my last time working in there.

That night we moved quickly to get in the new table desk, put up the curtains and make it generally liveable. On Monday I went to get the other knick nacks needed. My family had been wracking their brains to figure out what I might want for my birthday, which is in a couple of weeks, as is my partners. So thanks fam for the new heater and office chair for him.

This is the finished product.

Surprisingly this all went off without a hitch, but it did leave a very big dent in our savings. Weirdly, no one is considering the need for people to set up shop at home. The business as usual mentality doesn’t account for those of us who either didn’t have home offices or suddenly have to contend with partners needing to work at home too. We don’t have kids so that makes it a lot easier. Though if we did, I think that lock from the inside would come in handy.

What does your home office look like? Have changes for a possible lockdown?