Living with a coworker is possible

So let’s pretend you’ve had an awful day at work. It happens to the best of us — your manager yells at you for reasons you can’t possibly comprehend, your coworkers seem to have found new levels of painful annoyance you didn’t even know existed and to top it off, you’re working a double shift the night before your economics midterm.

You get off work and go back to your apartment; your safe haven from the awfulness you’ve just spent a good 12 hours experiencing. You can’t wait to blow off steam … except for one tiny little detail: Your roommate is one of the coworkers you just couldn’t stand today.

Not living with someone you work with is one of those pieces of advice we’ve been told countless times over. If you do it, be prepared for the worst, our friends say. You’ll talk about work all the time. You’ll never be able to vent about issues that aggravate you in the office. If something bad happens — one of you is fired or even worse, one of you does the firing to the other — you’ll never be able to make it through the rest of the year. They’re valid concerns, I’ll admit. But after spending half a year living with coworker, I’ve found that it’s not just possible, but rather it works very well — as long as you take some precautions.

*1. Don’t talk about work all the time.*

This seems like one of those obvious points that gets utterly lost in practice. If you’re like me, you’re living with a coworker not just because you work together. You’re living with him or her because you genuinely count on them as a friend, or you really enjoy their company. Chances are you’ve talked to your roommate outside the workplace and you have common interests other than where you work and what you do. If you can’t relate to any of these scenarios, it’s a red flag: Don’t follow through on that lease! Finding someone you’re compatible with on a personal level, not just a professional one.

*2. When something bad happens at the office, find another way to blow off steam.*

Your roommate shouldn’t be your only confidante. If you take issue with something they’ve done in the workplace, addressing it at home only screams unprofessionalism. Workplace issues should always be taken care of in a safe, calm, professional environment whenever possible.

On the other hand …

*3. If it’s going to make things better, talk it out! *

Sometimes you do need to talk about the job, especially when you’re working on work-related projects. Coordinating with your roommate can be a good idea in small doses. Can you work out a carpooling schedule? Walk each other to-and-from work, especially after the sun goes down? Have a big presentation coming up that you’re teamed up on? The pain-in-the-neck that can result from living far away from workmates is automatically diminished by living with one. Take advantage of the convenience when you can.

The moral of the story is simple: living with a coworker can work, as long as you handle work-related issues in moderation.

_Jill is a senior in Media._