When you and your housemates are all WFH, follow common courtesy, keep noise down, respect privacy and get outside now and then.
When you’re in the early stages of your career and working your fucking ass off in a big city, chances are pretty good that you’re living with roommates. It’s the only way to make it work in an expensive city.

Those TV shows with twenty-somethings living large in NYC while working as a freelance writer, waitress or massage therapist is total and complete bullshit.

The reality is that to make ends meet you need to share living expenses, particularly with the big one called rent and that means living with other people.

Living with roommates has its pluses and minuses.

One of the biggest challenges is when you and your roommate(s) are all working from home - whether by choice or not. When you’re spending all day and night with the same person, there’s a good chance that there will be some skirmishes every now and then.

In worst case scenarios, it can lead to serious battles, bordering on domestic violence. However, in most cases, it’s more common for housemates to just get on each other’s nerves once in a while.

You need to get along with your roomies, not only for your WFH productivity but also for your health, sanity and well-being.

Make Working From Home With Roomies Easier

You’d think that common courtesy is common sense, but it’s not always like that. There are some clueless folks out there who just don’t get it.

The best way to overcome this is to communicate clearly with your co-habitants, set expectations and find common ground for things that you guys don’t agree on 100%.

Compromise is the key to success here.

Here are some good tips and pointers for keeping your sanity intact and keep you guys from strangling each other.

1) Respect Each Other’s Privacy & Personal Space

Remember back in the day when your mom, dad or sibling would barge into your room unannounced?

It was such an invasion of privacy.

You were just doing your own thing in your own world and then all of a sudden, someone’s in your face about cleaning your room, getting homework done, finishing that chore or just generally bugging you.

It’s annoying as fuck.

That same sentiment still holds true today as adults. When you’ve got housemates, it’s important for everyone to respect each other’s need for privacy and personal space. Don’t be like your mom, dad or sibling.

2) Keep Separate Workspaces

The home you’re sharing with others is a home, not a co-working space. The common areas like the living and dining rooms should be reserved for what those rooms were meant for.

Unless you have agreement from the troop, set-up your home office in a corner area within your room. Yes, it’s not the most spacious or ideal, but you can optimize your workspace to kick ass with a few simple strategies.

By keeping separate workspaces, each of you can maintain some level of productive privacy for work conference calls, video meetings and to generally get shit done.

Then, every once in a while, if you and your roomies are up for it, you guys can do some casual work together in the living room. Just remember that since it’s the living room, the TV is not out of bounds.

In fact, some people like working with the TV on in the background.

3) Use Signals To Set Boundaries

It should be obvious that if your housemate has his or her door closed, it means “do not disturb” so, leave them alone.

Chances are that if it’s during the day, they’re probably listening in on a conference call, webinar or part of a group video meeting. Or, they just might be sneaking in a WFH power nap.

Other signals that you can use include wearing headphones or earphones and motioning the “shh” sign with your finger. To be safe though, just shut your door.

If you’re roaming around the house while on a call, mute yourself and let your mates know that you’re on yet another boring conference call.

4) Use Slack Or Other Messaging Apps

With all the communication apps and tech these days, there’s really no need to shout across the house or through walls and doors to get someone’s attention during the work day - that’s annoying.

During off-hours, casual intra-house convos are perfectly fine and normal. After all, it’d be weird to text your roomie when they’re right there.

But during the day, when the both of you are working, it’s far more courteous and respectful to just send a quick text or instant message instead of knocking on their door or talking through walls and doors. You never know, they just might be on a call or leading a presentation.

If both of you are on Slack, that’s perfect. Otherwise, just text or IM each other when both of you are holed up in your rooms working.

5) Keep Noise To A Minimum

Some people can’t work in dead silent environments. In fact, they may actually prefer a bit of ambient background noise - much like a lively cafe. And some need to rock out to music while working.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are some that need things to be library quiet to focus.

Dealing with noisy coworkers at the office is one thing. At least, you can eventually get away from that. However, when the noisy person is the one you live with, it’s a whole different ball of wax.

Don’t be that guy - keep your volume levels within the normal talking levels during the day and try not to bang shit around when others are working.

6) Use Headphones Whenever Possible

If the buzz of all the house activities is still getting to you, then grab your headphones and use sounds to battle and counteract the noise.

This is when those pricey noise-canceling headphones can pay off.

If you don’t have a pair of noise-canceling headphones, then just use any normal headphones and try one of these awesome ways to mask and drown out noise. It’ll get the job done.

7) Try Other Locations For Remote Work

Just because it’s called “work from home” doesn’t mean that you need to actually work from home. You can work from pretty much anywhere that is reasonably quiet, has an internet connection and power outlets.

This can be your local neighborhood cafe or library. There are a bunch of options. In fact, here are some of the best free places to work remotely to get shit done. There are a few you probably never even thought of or considered.

This will give you options if you need a change of scenery and want to get out of the house because of WFH cabin fever.

8) Listen To Calls While Walking Outside

You know those conference calls that you’re “required” to join but are pretty much pointless for you? You know, it’s the ones where you can pretty much zone out because your input, feedback or comments are not required.

These are the perfect types of calls to take while taking a walk outside with nature for some fresh air. Walking conference calls get your ass unglued for your chair and help to minimize dead butt syndrome.

Whenever you can, for these kinds of useless calls, get up from your desk and go for a walk around the block while the group blabbers on endlessly about shit that has nothing to do with you.

9) Grab Lunch Together (Or Not) 

Having lunch with co-workers is a great way to get your mind off of work for a bit. It’s fun to get out and grab some food, hang out for a bit, talk and catch up with some laughs.

When you’re WFH, it’s a toss up between eating in or going out for lunch. Both have their merits.

But sometimes, when you’ve been heads-down in your laptop all morning, it’s good to come up for some fresh air by getting out of the house for food.

If your housemates are up for it, go grab some food together. It’s a way to rekindle the lunch outing ritual that normally takes place at the office.

If they’re not into it or are busy, take advantage of this and go out for a solo lunchtime treat for yourself. Head out to your fav eatery and order up your usual and enjoy it.

Then, when you get back, you can get in the zone with work and crush the rest of the afternoon.

10) Help Each Other If Needed

No matter where you are, whether it’s at the office, home or anywhere else, people will bitch about work and the struggles and issues that they’re having to deal with.

It’s good to vent and get your frustrations out. It’s one of the best quick stress relief methods out there. It’s therapeutic.

Be there for each other as sounding boards and when it makes sense, offer up some help or advice. It could be something small and simple like some excel pointers, proof-reading a doc or just listening and letting them blow off some steam.

11) Disconnect, Hang Out & Have Fun Too

You can’t and shouldn’t work all day and night. You’ll burn out.

It’s way too easy for work to spill over into your evenings when you’re working from home. There’s no “circuit breaker” of a commute to help you mentally detach yourself from work.

It’s important that you disconnect and unplug from work at the end of the WFH workday.

You and your housemates can be each other's accountability partners to make sure that when it’s time to log off and shut down, you actually do it.

Here’s a tip: cracking open a bottle of beer or uncorking some wine usually does the trick. 😉

After work, just hang out, chill and decompress for a bit, then dedicate some “me-time” for yourself too before hitting the sack.

Happy Roomies Means Happy Life

There’s no doubting that getting a place of your own is pretty damn nice. But when you’re still trying to make it with big-city expenses, having housemates to split rent is absolutely mandatory.

Rather than seeing this as an unavoidable sacrifice, reframe your perspective and see it as something really good. It’s enabling you to live the urban lifestyle and also have someone to share those experiences with.

And when those experiences include work from home days where you and your roomies are working remotely, be respectful, support each other and have fun. Doing so will only make the experience even more richer and positive.

Because at some point down the line, when you do eventually get your own place, you’ll look back fondly on these moments and miss these times - for real. So, enjoy them.

Feel Better,

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