How To Live With A Work From Home Spouse Or Roommate

How To Live With A Work From Home Spouse Or Roommate

Following December 2019, the world economy came to a halt with people locked in their homes. 

The Covid19 pandemic not only increased the unemployment rate in the USA from 3.7% in 2019 to 8.9% in 2020 but also had a lasting impact on the work structure itself. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of employees working remotely, with five times the number of people working from home since after the pandemic than before. 

So, if your spouse or roommate has shifted to a work-from-home lifestyle too, here is a list of best practices on communication and separation of house or rooms to maintain peace at home. 

Separate Personal From Professional 

Even when they are working from home, they are essentially required to still work so insisting that they go out with you for coffee might not be the best idea. 

During their work hours, try to think of them as your coworker and not your friend or family. This would help you avoid personal commitments or conversations during that time frame and would let them be in the headspace they require to fulfill their professional tasks.

Alternatively, staying in the same communal space with the same person every day and still not spending quality time together can strain any relationship. 

Therefore, once their work hours are over, spend quality time together. Do not take their constant presence for granted because even if they are at home for most of the day, the two of you are not constantly available for each other. 

Once the clock ticks to the end of their working hours, it is now time for you to say goodbye to the assumed coworker and say hello to your friend or partner. Time after (and only that time) should be seen as the time for the two of you to bond on a personal level. 

Communicate Schedules in Advance

Communication is always a two-way street and in order to maintain a healthy relationship with the person you live with, it is essential that effective communication takes place.

In 2015, 97% of United States employees in a survey believed that effective communication significantly impacts their task efficacy on a daily basis. And with the employees working from home, effective communication with the people at home can therefore still affect their levels of productivity.

Knowing events prior to them happening can help both parties respect each others’ commitments. If you know they have an important virtual meeting at 1 pm, you then also know that that is not the ideal time to use the blender machine or vacuum the house. 

Similarly, if they know you have someone coming over during their work hours, they then know to sit inside the bedroom and not in the lounge so you and your guest can have a comfortable time.

It also allows your work-from-home spouse or friend to get enough time to set up their work resources in a different room accordingly so they too can work uninterrupted. 

Set Boundaries 

Along with effective communication, it is also crucial to set clear boundaries. Knowing the expectations that both parties have of each other can help both navigate through their daily tasks. A helpful way of managing expectations and not getting into petty arguments is to set ground rules. 

For example, the person working from home should ensure that they take all their meetings with their headphones plugged in so you do not have to listen to discussions being carried out for an organization that does not pay you to be a part of those meetings.

Similarly, if a meeting requires them to turn their camera on, they should attend it in a room and not a shared space, with the door closed, implying that you should not walk in and cause any interruption at all.

Little steps like these go a long way in setting healthy boundaries. As long as these boundaries are set mutually and respected, many arguments can be avoided such as one party complaining about the constant noise of the meetings and one being annoyed by the fact that their spouse or roommate is seen lurking in the background of the meetings by their colleagues. 

Remain Patient and Empathetic 

Constantly being in the presence of the same person can make anyone irritable. It is therefore important to realize that the other person might also be feeling the same way.

Staying empathetic can improve both of your mental health. Being empathetic decreases personal distress and allows an individual to become capable of understanding others’ feelings. This subsequently decreases the probability of having negative emotions towards those around you and decreases stress levels for both parties.

Understand that everyone needs their own space- even if you live in a shared space. If your roommate wants to stay in after work and you want them to go out for dinner with you, respect their choices and try to understand that they might have had a long draining day of work, even if they were sitting on the sofa all day.

Despite having clear boundaries and open communication, occasionally either of you can make a mistake. When faced with such situations, try to remain calm regardless of who is on the other end, a roommate you barely get along with, or the love of your life. 

Picking a fight on an anomaly issue benefits no one but being empathetic allows you to have a more peaceful environment inside the house. It saves you as well as the person you are living with the mental strain of a fight at day’s end. 


While having your spouse or roommate work from home may seem like a great way of having company all day, it is important to remember that even if both of you are home, at least one of you is still working. 

It is therefore important to keep your personal relationship at bay during their work hours, have effective communication channels, set and respect boundaries, and also practice empathy when one of you has a slight slip-up.

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