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A few months ago I moved into a new home. I share it with 2 other people. One of my roommates started a new job recently. She worked in the office the first week but told me she prefers to work from home. Now she is having very loud video conference meetings in the living room. Given the layout of our home, I have to pass by the living room often and I can hear her talking from my room with the door closed.

There are two or three problems with this:

  1. The noise she makes
  2. I don't want strangers seeing a video of me in my home
  3. It's not really the intended use for a shared space for one person to use it as their office

I haven't talked to her yet but was thinking something like "could you have your work meetings in your own room? I'm not really comfortable being on video with strangers and it's a rather loud".

Recently I had a guest over at night and she complained about the level of music. I have a feeling she may be intentionally acting loud now to "get back at me", but I may be reading too much into the situation. She and I have different work schedules. (She's had guests over at the same time I did so I thought it was ok)

What's the best way of addressing this to minimize the chances of animosity? I'm expecting she will argue when I ask her to work in her room.

In my experience having lots of rules is counter productive. For example if she asks me not to have guests over after a certain time, I would be less likely to be ok with her watching TV after that time. But I guess I would like one about work must be done in your own room.

My roommates are from other countries. The one making the noise is from Africa. I want to ask a separate question but think this is related, when I first met her she said "black people are loud" so I'm afraid it could be construed as racist if I tell her she's being loud.

UPDATE

My other roommate and I talked to her about having virtual meetings in the shared space. She wasn't able to understand. She said she normally uses a virtual background so privacy wasn't an issue. I told her it was also the noise. She argued the TV could be on a making noise. I tried to explain that's different because the TV must go in the shared area but she didn't understand. She's even talking about connecting her laptop to the TV for the meetings which I think is even less fair. I'm hoping I don't have to escalate the issue to the landlord.

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    Hi Noetics, and welcome to IPS. A couple of questions: 1. how long do these meetings last? 2. How often? 3. At what time (or from ? to ?)? 4. Is she taking up most of the time that should be shared? and 5. What does your contract say about shared areas? – OldPadawan Aug 18 at 6:44
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    Hey there Noetics and welcome to IPS! Any idea why your roommate is using the share rooms instead of working from her room? (Maybe it's too hot there or less comfortable?) I believe understanding why your roommate is using the shared space will help you come to a better solution while trying to resolve this issue. – Ael Aug 18 at 7:25
  • @OldPadawan 1) several hours 2) it only happened once or twice so far. Sort of a separate question but how often should I wait before addressing a problem? Some people say the sooner the better but I've had the experience of offending someone by complaining the first time they did someone 3) around 11AM-4PM 4) shared areas are shared at all times 5) nothing specifically – Noetics Aug 19 at 9:48
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    @Ael no I hadn't thought of asking, that may be a good starting point! – Noetics Aug 19 at 9:48
  • @Ael I tried talking about it but she didn't understand. – Noetics Aug 21 at 21:09
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I have a similar problem with my roommate. He likes to work at the dining table because he can watch out of the window there. In his room is little light so I understand that. Therefore, we agreed on specific timeslots in which the table needs to be free for eating. He likes to listen to podcasts/radio without headphones, so again we agreed to limit the volume. As a compromise, I am working in my room with the same set of max. Volume. I also clean the table after Eating so his workplace is free when he need it.

So maybe you make such rules as well, to compromise together. If you do not want to be on video, her Laptop or webcam could face the wall. That way you will not be on it. Try to agree on when she can use the space freely and when it the rest of your household wants to use the living room. It is a shared space after all.

That is just my personal experience and my suggestion. I hope you can find a peaceful solution.

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  • Hey Annikey, welcome to IPS! I believe it would be useful for the OP if you could tell us more about how you approach discussing this with your roommate and how you conduct the "negociation" part. – Ael Aug 28 at 10:29
  • Good point! let me elaborate: when I approche my roommate, I start with how I feel. I learned that "you need to change x" approach does not work. More like "I feel uncertain when you need this space. i want us both to be comfortable. when do you need the space? can we agree on Breakfast time 8 am? so no laptop/work in this time?" – Annikey Aug 31 at 10:45

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