Working From Home With Roommates

By Ashley Paskill

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are working from home. This is remaining true, even as more companies are returning to in-person work. With this rise, you and your roommate may both be working from home, which can present challenges. Knowing how to make things work so you can be productive during your workday is crucial.

Roommate Tips: Working From Home With Roommates

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Create a schedule

One of the most important things you and your roommate can do is create a schedule for your shifts. Know what times you each have meetings and calls so you can avoid interrupting. Try to plan lunchtime for the same time as your roommate so you can eat together. Having a schedule with set times for working helps you minimize distracting each other and can help you both keep a work-life balance. You may not always stick to the schedule perfectly, but having one in place can help you and your roommate stay focused and motivated.

Set up an office

You and your roommate having your own separate workspaces can help eliminate distractions. Have things on hand such as chargers, office supplies, and desk accessories to help maximize productivity. Make sure you have everything set up before your day starts so you do not have to ask your roommate where something could be and have your roommate do the same to avoid distracting you. If having two separate spaces for your desks is not feasible for your living arrangement, consider using noise-canceling headphones so you do not get distracted by each other’s phone calls and meetings. With this, also ensure that you have a place to work and a place for life. Eat meals away from your desk.

Dress for work

It may be tempting to roll out of bed and just work in your pajamas. However, changing into work attire, even if it is not the fanciest outfit, can signal to coworkers that you are in work mode. At the end of the workday, change into more comfortable clothes to tell your roommate that you are available to talk and do whatever you want to do outside of work. This helps to create a boundary with your roommate so they do not distract you. You will also feel more motivated to work since you are dressed for the occasion and will feel the part.

Treat roommates like coworkers

Ultimately, you and your roommate are both trying to get work done. Reframe your thoughts to think of them as a coworker during business hours so that you can both focus on getting work done. Use headphones to play music, be as quiet as possible when moving around, and avoid distracting them unless it is absolutely necessary. On the flip side, do not take it personally if they are unable to talk at a moment when they are trying to get a work task done. Respect requests to talk about things later, just like you would expect them to respect this wish if you made it.

Make morning coffee

In the morning, make it a point to make coffee for yourself and your coworker so you can be energized for your workday. If you find this to be overwhelming, you may even decide to take turns making coffee each day with your roommate. Have any fixings your roommate likes on hand so that you can both have what you like. Not only will your roommate appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you can also have some coffee. It is a win-win situation all around!

Communication is key

Living with a roommate requires communication, and having them working in the space with you requires a little extra communication. Share your schedules and avoid having others come over to work without letting each other know. Make use of chat apps and websites to stay informed throughout the day. Set aside moments where you can talk face-to-face and check in with each other to help alleviate the lack of other coworkers in your space. Just know the signals and schedule so you know when to not disturb your roommate.

Share communal spaces

Unless you have a meeting that needs to remain confidential, make use of communal spaces when working with your roommate. This will help you feel like you are actually in the office. Staying in your bedroom can wreak havoc on your mental health. Set up desks in a living room so you and your roommate can keep each other company throughout the day. If you want to go to a private place to take a meeting or a phone call, let your roommate know so they know not to disturb you. You may even want to take turns or create a schedule for using certain rooms so you can change scenery throughout the day.

Working from home with a roommate who is doing the same thing can be difficult, but keeping communication open and working together will help you be successful with getting work tasks completed.

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