7 Tips for Working From Home With Roommates

All Storage Online | June 11, 2020 @ 12:00 AM

If you’re working from home during COVID-19, it may be tough to separate the “home” part of home office. This is especially true if you’ve got roommates. Even more so if you’re all working from home. On top of your already busy workload, suddenly you’re also dealing with your roommate blending a smoothie while you’re writing a report or walking around in the background of your Zoom meeting (extra awkward if they’ve just taken a shower and are in a towel). 

Just as it is possible to find harmony in an actual office, it’s possible to coexist with your roommate when your shared apartment turns into a home office. Whether you’re only working from home during COVID-19 or you’re going remote for the foreseeable future, these tips will make it easy to work from home with roommates:


Set Office Hours

Start by communicating your schedule to your roommate and have them do the same. You may even want to consider writing this information down and posting it on the fridge. Agree that during these hours, you will both be quiet and will only interrupt each other when it is urgent.


Define Your Workspace

Another way to reinforce the boundaries between working from home together and socializing with each other is to define your workspaces. If you have separate bedrooms, you might work from your bedrooms and use the living room and kitchen as common spaces. This way, simply closing your bedroom door communicates that you are not to be disturbed. If you will both be working from a shared area, identify who will be working from where. Consider if you want total privacy while working or if you want more of a co-working environment where you work in the same room and occasionally chat.


Get Headphones 

Headphones combined with some music or an app that helps you focus can free you from the distractions that living with roommates can bring. Whether it’s your roommate’s noisy dog, habit of taking phone calls on speaker, or love of watching reality television all day, headphones can save you from losing focus and losing your temper. It’s also a simple and effective way to communicate that you are concentrating and not available to socialize at the moment. Headphones are also key for when you’re not working and want to kick back with some Netflix without bothering your roommate. 


Agree to Limit Noisy Activities

Speaking of distractions, it’s worth noting that roommates aren’t always aware when their behavior is annoying. This is why you should both take the time to define what constitutes a distraction and agree to limit these kinds of activities to the hours outside of your work schedules. Noisy activities might include listening to music on speakers, watching television, working out in a common area, having friends over, using a blender, using a hair dryer, and vacuuming (though it’s hard to imagine discouraging a roommate from vacuuming). 


Give a Heads Up on Important Meetings

Job interview over Skype? Performance review with your boss? If you’ve got a big meeting coming up, make sure your roommate is aware of it a few days in advance and the day of. 


Utilize a Zoom Background

As funny as it is to see something unexpected in the background of a video call, your coworkers don’t always need to see what your roommate is up to. This is where Zoom backgrounds come in–or at the very least, making an effort to ensure that the camera of your computer faces the wall directly behind you rather than a living room where your roommate is doing yoga. 


Take a Coffee Break Together

Working remotely can be an isolating experience, so in many ways having roommates can actually be a good thing (unless you hate your roommate, in which case we once again suggest buying some headphones). Try to have coffee together in the morning, lunch together in the afternoon, or even after work drinks. This is not only great company, but it’s a good time for both of you to communicate what’s going on at work so that you might learn to be more sensitive to each other’s needs. And besides, happy hour at your apartment is way cheaper than happy hour in real life.


Need additional tips on working from home, keeping kids entertained at home, or finding COVID-19 resources in your area? Check out our blog for more.