How to win at working remotely (with roommates)

  |     |   Helpful Tips

Your journey as a remote worker (or student) may have begun with a haphazard approach, as you and your roommates juggled schedules to get things done. But as more workers find themselves working remotely for the foreseeable future, it’s time to up your work-at-home game! These tips can help get you started.

1. Set the ground rules

Whether you have one roommate or several, it’s important to set the ground rules up front for your work-at-home experience. Convene an all-roommate meeting and identify what’s critical for each of you to succeed in your work. For some it may be an all-quiet environment, others may need to participate in regular video meetings, and still others may work best with some level of ambient noise. Get everything out on the table and work out what will be the best solution for everyone. And by all means, get creative! Consider sound-cancelling headphones for your music-happy counterparts and rotating schedules in and out of closed-off rooms to help keep the peace (literally!)

2. Claim your territory

In most cases, you’ll do best identifying a regular location for your work—and letting your roommates know that this area is your domain. Whether it’s at the kitchen table, a permanent desk in your bedroom, or a makeshift workspace that you create from repurposing a shelf unit against the wall, everyone in the apartment should claim their own space for their work materials, laptop, and favorite chair. Having a regular space where you “show up” every day—even if you change things up during your work session and migrate to the couch or the balcony while the weather is still nice—will help keep you focused and ready to dive in to your work session first thing every day.

3. Be rigorous about cleaning

One of the benefits of working at an office is that generally, someone else is responsible for emptying trashcans, vacuuming your work space and keeping the break room from becoming a jungle of half-eaten take-out boxes. When you and your roommates are all working from home, however, cleaning becomes a must-do task to be shared among all of you, equally (unless you’re working exclusively out of your own bedrooms). Plan ahead for who will clean what areas, and how often, to keep your workspace as fresh and productive as possible.

4. Limit Distractions

While video calls and mind-numbing webinars are inevitable, making a conscious effort to limit other distractions can pay huge dividends for the long-term success of your and your roommates’ work efforts. By being thoughtful about loud chatter, music/gaming/streaming noise, or even excessive roaming around the apartment during high-work times, you can help create a soothing, productive environment built on mutual respect. It’s a minor shift in attitude that can make a major difference!

Working remotely may not always be the ideal solution, but it’s becoming more and more the new normal in today’s chaotic times. Here’s wishing you (and your roommates) a successful work-from-home adventure.

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