Sharing a home office is very different to sharing a work space. As owner of the room, it falls on you to make the decisions about the home office as opposed to your manager. So, what are the pros and cons of sharing a home office? Read on to find out what you could be in store for!
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Pros and cons of sharing a home office
Advantages of sharing a home office
- Saves on cost of another home office
- Encourages collaboration on common work
- Feels less lonely than working alone
- Can divide costs between more people
Disadvantages of sharing a home office
- Increased noise levels
- Can cause disruption
- Can lead to conflict
- Reduces confidentiality
- Home office is likely to get messier and dirtier
- Reduces space available
- Equipment and furniture must be shared
Sharing a home office is very different to sharing a work office. The etiquette of being at home is much more relaxed. But is that such a good thing? Do you mind people sharing your personal space or belongings? If not, it could work out perfectly. But it could also be extremely frustrating and distracting too. Let’s look more into each benefit and disadvantage to see what sharing an office could mean for you!
Your personality type should be considered as it can affect how well you perform in a work environment. For instance, your response to distractions and awareness of personal space. Source
Advantages of sharing a home office
Saves on cost of another home office
If a scenario arises where you have the choice of sharing your home office with a family member or housemate, it could save that person and you some extravagant expenses.
Many people function best when in a professional setting as opposed to working from their bedroom or kitchen.
Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly common that people spend money renting hot desks in co-working spaces.
By sharing a home office, this cost is eliminated, and you can instead either save the money or put it towards the bills and expenses of the home office.
Can divide costs between more people
In terms of sharing a home office as opposed to 2 people working in separate corners of the house, it can ultimately reduce the likes of lighting and heating bills.
Other costs that can arise include equipment and stationery supplies, such as printers, ink, paper.
These costs could also be shared to reduce the burden on one person.
Encourages collaboration on common work
Shared work spaces are an environment which can encourage both parties to collaborate and speak more freely on items that they are working on.
Much of this communication could be lost if those people were relying primarily on video calls and occasional face to face meetings.
Sharing a home office also allows you to bounce ideas of one another, even if you have separate jobs or projects to work on.
Feels less lonely than working alone
Working from home has led to an increase in people reporting feelings of loneliness and disconnected.
Furthermore, lonely workers take more sick days and demonstrate lower performance levels and commitment to work.
It can feel even more lonely if there’s nobody in your house with you for the majority of the day or if you live alone.
Therefore, having someone to share your home office can alleviate these feelings of isolation and even boost your mental health and productivity.
Disadvantages of sharing a home office
Increased noise levels
Sharing a home office with someone has benefits and disadvantages. Some people prefer to work in a quiet and calm atmosphere, whereas other people flourish off the buzz and find silence deafening.
Regardless of how quiet they are, an extra person working in a home office is bound to generate more noise. If you are used to solitude and quietness, then this may take a while to adjust to.
Generally, the noise of the other person becomes background noise after a few hours or days.
However, some people are just naturally loud individuals; in other cases, the nature of their work may involve regular calls or using noisy equipment.
You might be fortunate enough that they don’t need to use the office while you’re there.
But if that isn’t the case, then you might need to come to an agreement on how to work together to achieve harmony.
Can cause disruption
Having another person sharing your home office can disrupt your workflow, concentration and comfort levels.
If you are someone who is easily distracted, then you’re likely to notice what the other person is doing and lose concentration.
I personally either put in my ear plugs or listen to brown noise on my headphones to block out noise.
You could also consider a privacy desk divider or positioning your desk against the wall so that the other person is out of eye shot.
A more effective method is trying to occupy the home office at different times.
Determining each other’s work times and patterns can help to reduce the amount of disruption.
If you both work the same hours, then you may not have as much opportunity work flexibly around each other.
However, if you operate on a flexible working or study pattern, then you can both structure your day so that each of you have some alone time in the office.
This will help to ensure that you can both share the office while minimizing disruption or getting in the way of the other person.
Tip: By mapping out your work or study hours, it allows both parties to agree when they will be using the office and plan disruptive activities accordingly.
Can lead to conflict
Having a home office to yourself means you are the controller of practically everything from heating levels to lighting levels. However, this can be a challenge when sharing a room with someone.
We all know the arguments that occur when someone is too hot, and the other person is too cold.
If you need to compromise on the temperature levels and lighting, then you might not be as cozy or as cool as you were beforehand.
In addition, you may have the challenge of agreeing how the home office is laid out and who gets the window seat.
Let’s not forget about housekeeping too!
If such obstacles occur, these need to be discussed and agreed with both people coming to a common ground on how the shared home office will be run.
If there’s a clash of personalities, then it can be even more difficult to work together harmoniously.
Therefore, establishing clear rules and boundaries will help to make sharing a home office as pleasant and seamless as possible.
Tip: Avoid relying on unspoken rules and assumptions! Instead, set out some laws and courtesies from the very beginning so there’s no ambiguity.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may need to make or take calls which require an element of confidentiality. However, this is lost when you start sharing your office.
In such scenarios, you’ll need to decide how to have calls when the other person is in the room.
It might be a case of you simply leaving the room and completing the call in another room of the house.
If this is a regular occurrence or the calls tend to be long, then where you take those calls needs to be considered from an ergonomic perspective.
Here’s a quick and simple guide of work at home ergonomic tips – dos and don’ts
Home office is likely to get messier and dirtier
With a shared home office often being occupied for 40 hours or more, it’s certain to get dirty and disorganized. Consequently, it will probably need to be cleaned more frequently.
It’s only fair that both parties contribute to cleaning and maintaining the home office.
Therefore, it’s often best to establish a regular desk cleaning routine.
By establishing a desk cleaning schedule, it will avoid conflict. Plus, there will be no ambiguity amongst both individuals how often the room needs to be cleaned and who does what.
Additionally, each person should be accountable for their own possessions.
Therefore, you should be responsible for keeping your documents and storage areas organized.
A good approach is to adopt a 6S approach to cleaning and maintaining the desk. This involves ensuring that everything is in its place and to a certain standard.
This check could be completed every day or every week to make sure that the shared office desk is kept to an agreed level of tidiness.
Related: How to organize your desk drawers – 12 fool proof steps
Reduces space available
Sharing with another person will mean that there’s less space available for your belongings and possibly less office space too.
If the person requires their own desk, this will consume a considerable amount of footprint.
On the other hand, if you are sharing a desk, then their belongings are likely to be on the desk and consume more space.
Alternatively, if space is tight, you could consider a compact folding desk which can fit in even the smallest of rooms.
Plus, it’s likely that they may require some storage area too.
If your work or study involves paperwork or materials, then you’ll need to consider the existing storage space and whether more are required.
Either way, you’ll either have to give them a few shelves or drawers or else purchase some units.
More importantly, there will need to be dedicated storage locations for both individuals.
These storage compartments should be labeled and kept organized to ensure that items do not get mixed up or lost.
Equipment and furniture must be shared
It’s important from the beginning to agree on what furniture, gadgets and stationery will be shared. Otherwise, it can lead to your precious items being taken and possibly used up or damaged.
Stationery or frequently used items should be either separated or designated as shared materials, such as pens or scissors.
Agreeing on this can help to avoid arguments over your belongings being used or misplaced.
Larger items, such as printers and furniture are probably going to be shared.
In a perfect world, you will have enough space in the home office so that you both can have your own desk and chair.
However, if you don’t use the office at the same time or space constraints exist, you may need to share these items.
If the person is clumsy or heavy-handed, the furniture or gadgets could become damaged or dirtied.
You could alternatively invest in a desk that’s designed for 2 people, such as the Bivi Table for Two
Also, bear in mind that if you are sharing a desk or chair, the ergonomic setup of these workstation items will probably need to be adjusted each time you sit into the chair.
Failure to properly adjust your chair or monitors can lead to pain, discomfort and poor posture.
A height adjustable table is one of the most effective solutions to s achieve optimal ergonomic conditions on a shared work space.
Plus, it encourages an ergonomic shared work space for people of differing heights.
Recommended product: Ergotron Standing Desk Converters
Whether it’s due to a change in working conditions, space constraints or financial reasons, you may find yourself sharing your office with a family member or housemate.
There’s a case to be made for whether sharing a home office is better or not. Much of this will depend on your personal preferences and the individual that you are sharing with.
However, at home, there can be limitations to having a dedicated desk for each person.
Sharing an office at home can be a challenging experience if it’s not properly coordinated.
This can either be torture or tremendous.
Establishing some ground rules and office organization can make it a comfortable and productive environment for both parties involved.
To make it as seamless as possible, follow the steps in this article: How To Share A Desk At Home – 8 Instant Steps To Happiness!
There will be a degree of getting used to each other but communicating any problems will help tackle and lessen the disruption for both individuals.