How to Successfully Work from Home with Multiple Roommates

How to Successfully Work from Home with Multiple Roommates

Working from home with children is one thing, but working from home when you are living with adult roommates is another. With kids, you’re the boss, so it’s a little easier to establish rules with them. With adult roommates, however, you can’t just command them to do whatever you want. Instead, determining solutions needs to be a collaborative effort with each person potentially learning to make compromises. 

That said, while there can be some challenges when working remotely with roommates around, the benefits can outweigh the negatives. In this article, we’ll discuss some of these benefits and offer tips on how to navigate remote work life when living with others. 

The Benefits of Working From Home

Though you’ve likely heard many remote workers griping and groaning about the hurdles they have to deal with now that they work from home, there are actually a lot of great benefits, too. It’s all about finding the right balance and making your work-from-home life work for you and your individual needs. 

Some of the many benefits you can gain from working remotely include:

  • Saving time on your commute
  • Spending less money on gas and transportation
  • Minimizing your impact on the environment by reducing carbon emissions
  • Getting more sleep since you don’t have to wake up as early
  • Saving you money on clothes since you can dress more casually
  • Reducing stress levels working from a comforting, familiar space
  • Reducing how much you spend on lunches and coffee when you can just eat the food you already have at home

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of working from home is the flexibility that it offers. Many younger generations of workers today are realizing the importance of a better work-life balance, and working from home can help you achieve that. Instead of wasting so much of your day on a commute, that time can now be spent on other personal things. Some people even find that they get more work done in a shorter amount of time when they work from home, which means potentially getting to clock out early. 

Tips for Effectively Working From Home While Cohabitating With Roommates

The potential downside of working from home is that you might have to navigate your work day while also sharing your space with roommates. However, while this is a hurdle, there is no reason that it can’t be overcome by communicating openly with your roommates and setting some ground rules. 

1. Establish Ground Rules With Your Roommates

When you are living with roommates, tensions can run high even when you aren’t working from home. So when you add remote work into the mix, it can sometimes make things seem even more complicated — but it doesn’t have to be. The key is sitting down with your roommates to set boundaries, ground rules, and create a plan that works for everyone’s schedule. 

First, make sure your discussion includes respecting everyone’s privacy in the home. Next, it’s helpful if everyone can share their schedules so everyone is aware of who is where and when to avoid interruptions. Sharing your schedules will also help everyone plan their activities around when you or anyone else needs quiet time at home to get work done. 

If necessary, set strict quiet hours and establish an agreement ahead of time to avoid any noise issues. Even if your work schedule is very flexible, it might be a good idea to stick to certain days and times so your roommates know ahead of time not to be loud or disturb you during those hours. 

It’s also helpful if you plan time to socialize with your roommates. Focusing on the restrictions only can make establishing ground rules with your roommates a more negative experience. So it’s important to also talk about when you can hang out with one another and have fun, rather than only talking about when you need them to be quiet. 

2. Create a Separate, Dedicated Workspace

Having a dedicated workspace is crucial when you live with roommates. It’s not really fair for you to use up communal space for your work when that should be a space that anyone in the house can use at any time. For example, some people might choose to set up their workspace in the kitchen, but this really only works if you live alone or with just one partner.

Instead, try choosing an area where you can have privacy. If there aren’t a lot of options, you can always make your bedroom your office space. However, a garage can also make a great home office if you have one. Just make sure you give it a good clean first, set up the right lighting, use a portable AC or heater, and choose suitable furniture. 

3. Make Sure Your Workspace is Clean and Comfortable

No matter where you end up setting up your home workspaces, whether it’s in your bedroom, the garage, or another dedicated room, it’s important to make sure it’s clean and comfortable. 

One of the reasons some people struggle when working from home is because their home is messy and distracting, especially if they have roommates. So it’s important to keep your dedicated workspace clean and tidy to help you stay focused and content.

Keep your desk space organized and use candles or air fresheners if necessary to block out smells from the rest of the house. You can also hire a cleaning professional if needed and split the cost with your roommates to keep the whole house and your workspace clean. 

Additionally, make sure you have the right office furniture for your home workspace. Having a home office with actual office furniture can help you stay more focused and productive while working from home. If you’re just sitting on your bed or on a couch, for example, this isn’t conducive to getting your work done and staying in a focused frame of mind. 

4. Establish Rules and a Routine for Yourself

Aside from having a dedicated workspace and setting ground rules with your roommates, it’s also important to establish some boundaries and ground rules for yourself. Establishing a specific workday routine, for example, can help you separate your work life from your regular home life.

Instead of rolling out of bed and getting right to work, try creating a routine that is similar to what you might do if you actually had to go work at an office. Wake up early enough to give yourself time to shower and eat breakfast. And actually, get dressed in “normal” day clothes — don’t just stay in your pajamas or loungewear. Doing these things can help put you in the right frame of mind to have a productive work day. 

It also helps if you set clear work time boundaries. For example, you can make 9 to 12 dedicated work time, then stop and take a lunch break. Then try sitting down to do focused work again from 1 to 4, or 5. Make sure you have a dedicated stop time when you force yourself to shut things down and step away from your workspace, too. Otherwise, you might end up working more than you need to. 

In Summary

Open communication with your roommates is one of the most important things when establishing rules that work for everyone. Instead of seeming like a tyrant and simply ordering everyone around your work schedule, make sure it’s a collaborative effort that keeps everyone’s schedules and needs in mind. Having your own dedicated workspace in a private area of the home is also key, so you aren’t unfairly taking over any shared spaces. Once you have these two things worked out, the rest is about creating a workspace and a routine that works for your individual needs so you can work happily and productively.