Imagine this. You are in the living room, on a video call with an important client. All of a sudden, your roommate, who just woke up, comes in wearing only their underwear. Hilarious, but very embarrassing.
Or how about this scenario. You are trying to complete a difficult project by the end of the day. But it’s hard to focus with your partner banging pots and pans in the kitchen as they attempt to cook a meal. Irritating, right?
Or, you are concentrating on an important report when your roommate comes in with their friends, ready to party in the living room.
It kind of makes the work from home setting unappealing, right?
It’s not like you can toss your roommate out.
In an article published in Chicago Tribune back in 2017, one of the main reasons why 30% of unmarried adults live together is due to financial reasons. They want to cut costs. The best way to do that is to share housing costs with someone else.
That’s okay as long as you get to spend some time away from them during the day.
But what if a pandemic causes you to stay in your home 24/7? Or your roommate decided that they will work from home as well? How will you both work from home without getting into each other’s nerves? Allow us to help you with that.
Follow these rules when sharing your work from home space
Living with someone is not that easy. Even if it’s your friend or even a relative, it’s different once you live with them under the same roof. In fact, a Forbes article revealed that only 32% of people living with friends are satisfied.
How can you make a work-from-home arrangement work? It’s possible, that’s for sure. But you need to approach it with a plan and a lot of rules.
Treat each other as co-workers
If one or both of you have to work together at home, you need to treat each other as co-workers. If you think of each other as roommates, you will feel more relaxed when each other is around. While that makes the situation less stressful, it might make you a bit inconsiderate of what each other needs.
But if you mentally refer to them as your co-worker, you will be more cautious around them. You will be more respectful of their space and the noise you make, especially when you see them working.
Discuss your schedule
If you will be working together, you need to divulge your schedule. For instance, if you have a meeting every Monday morning, make sure your roommate is aware of this. Tell them the time and where you intend to stay while at that meeting. That way, your roommate can adjust.
The same is true for you. If you know their work schedule, you can set your own schedule around theirs. Maybe you can start your workday earlier while the other will work later. It’s all about compromise.
You can discuss your calendar before the workweek starts. Or you can set up a digital calendar that both of you can update simultaneously. That way, you will both be reminded of each other’s schedule and you can clear out of the way whenever necessary.
Talk about your respective workspaces
If this is a permanent work-from-home setup, just create your respective workstations. The ideal situation would suggest that you both work in your bedroom. While that will give you privacy it is not always good for your mental health. In an article on Forbes, it explains that working from your bedroom blurs the line between your work and personal life. It will make work seem “unending.” The author had been a remote worker for more than a decade so you can bet that he knows what he’s talking about.
But where can you set up your work? Well, one can set it up in the hallway and another in a corner of the house. Find your own space based on what you need to be productive at work.
If you both want to work in the same space, make sure you can set it up in such a way that it will not disturb each other. This way, you don’t have to clear out your area every time your roommate wants to start working.
But what if this is not a permanent work arrangement? That is okay. But you need to discuss where each of you will set up your work stations. Maybe one can work on the dining table while the other will stay in the living room. That way, you can stay out of each other’s way while you work.
Set boundaries and expectations
Apart from sharing your calendar of schedules, you need to discuss specific boundaries. For instance, if you decide to work in your bedroom, that means you should not be disturbed. Or if you are in the middle of a video call, your roommate should not walk behind you.
And let’s talk about clothes! One of the perks of working from home is being able to work while in your PJs. But you can set a rule that it should still be decent. You don’t want your roommate to accidentally be exposed while you are on a video call with your clients or colleagues. Let them know that there are times when you need to do video calls so they know to be decent during work hours.
This also applies to visitors. If you want to invite someone over, make sure your roommate knows. And vice versa. This applies even if you are bringing your significant other over. In case your roommate agrees, make sure your visitor understands that there might be someone working at home. This way, they keep the noise level down.
Socialize with each other
If it’s just the two of you day in and day out – learn how to socialize with each other. Use messaging apps that will allow you to send messages without disturbing their work. Message your roommate in the middle of a workday to ask if they want to grab lunch or take a coffee break. Talk about non-work related topics.
According to the 2020 State of Remote Work Report, 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness. So if you have your roommate with you, be thankful for them. You need to take care of each other. Make sure you check on one another throughout the day. And allow them to vent if there is something bothering them at work. Offer your advice and give them a fresh perspective to help ease the stress that they are feeling.
Tips to set up a home office with a roommate
Now that you know rules to work harmoniously at home with a roommate, let’s talk about what you need to make it easier.
Here is a list of things that will make your work from home arrangement both convenient and comfortable.
Small yet functional table and chair
The first of the list the table and chair that you will use. It has to be functional, but make sure it is also small. Get a narrow table and a simple chair that is not bulky. If there are two or more of you working from home permanently, space might be too tight for all of you. So be considerate about this. Don’t take up too much space. And utilize the wall in front or beside your table. Set up shelves that will serve as storage for your files and other work stuff.
Proper storage space
You should also discuss storage for anything that is related to work. If you live in a small apartment with roommates, every area will count. It is best to have double purpose items as your furniture. Like a coffee table that has storage space. Or a couch or ottoman with storage inside. All it takes is a bit of organizing to have enough storage for your work-related items. Make sure you all have your respective spaces.
You also need a common calendar. It can be an app that you can sync on your mobile devices. Or it can be a huge calendar that you can hang somewhere at home. This way, everyone will be looking and updating only one app or calendar. It will help you stay updated on each other’s work schedules. It’s easier to coordinate. Make sure that you have this for home-related stuff as well. Like who will do the groceries or cook the meals, etc.
Since you will work with other people at home, it is best to have noise-canceling equipment with you. Invest in a noise-canceling headphone or use simple earplugs. This will allow you to focus on your work even while your roommate is cooking in the kitchen. Or even if they are talking loudly to someone on the phone.
You cannot hog the outlet. If there are two or more of you working at home, you all need to charge your laptops and devices. Having extension cords will help make things easier for everyone. Invest in a heavy-duty extension cord that can accommodate a lot of devices safely.
This timer is simply for taking breaks. You all need to remind yourselves that you need to take a break every now and then. If you want, you can to it at regular intervals. That way, everyone will get used to it. And while on break, try not to talk about work-related topics. Bond and socialize with your roommates.
What do you think? With all of these tips, do you think you can work from home with your roommate and live to tell the tale?