Traveling Together: Sharing Hotel Rooms With Coworkers

May 5, 2011

Adding your boss or coworkers to a business trip can be fraught with issues. Traveling Together is a series on Road Warriorette about avoiding the pitfalls that crop up when traveling with others.

One of the most awkward things in travel can be sharing a hotel room with a co-worker. With companies trying harder than ever to save money, this is unfortunately becoming more and more common. Here are some tips on how to be a good roommate, and how to survive if the other person is not so considerate.

  • Share the space. Don’t take up all the room in the closet, drawers, or bathroom counter.
  • Stay neat. I wasn’t able to do it in college (sorry college roommate!), but keeping your stuff contained and in one area is key to a harmonious hotel room sharing experience. Don’t leave your clothes lying all around the hotel room–try to keep them in or around your suitcase. Don’t scatter your toiletries all over the bathroom counter–your contacts holder and toothbrush can easily go back in your travel bag each morning after you’re done with them.
  • Ask for more stuff. Call the front desk and ask for more hangars, towels, pillows, or anything else the two of you need to be more comfortable.
  • Work somewhere else. Scope out a separate work space, just in case you can’t work in your room. The hotel lobby, a lounge, or a restaurant are all possible alternate mobile offices. Same goes for personal phone calls–it may be better to chat somewhere besides your room.
  • Stay quiet during sleeping hours. If you have radically different sleep schedules, be quiet when your roommate is a asleep. Don’t turn the overhead lights on. Bring a book light if you need to read before bed.
  • On the flip side. Bring things that will help you sleep in case your roommate isn’t as polite as you are. Earplugs, eye mask, headphones with white noise app, or whatever else you need.
  • Spend as little time as possible in your room. If your roommate is a total stranger, or if you truly don’t get along, it may just be easier to treat your room as a place to sleep and spend most of your time elsewhere.
  • Figure out a morning schedule. Do you get up early? Do you shower at night? Figure out, ahead of time, ways to share the bathroom in the morning so that you both can be ready on time.

Sharing space is challenging, but it can be done. The two keys are to be cognizant of how whatever you do affects your roommate, and to be prepared for your roommate to not be so thoughtful as you. That way no matter what you will be able to sleep and get your work done.

Readers, any other tips for sharing a room with a coworker?

  1. Alex said,

    One that I always have to remember is to bring appropriate in-room and sleeping clothing.

    I am a boxer shorts-only sleeper at home or when alone on the road, but when sharing a room I make sure to bring comfortable pajama bottoms and a t-shirt to wear.

  2. Lauren said,

    Ugh. This makes me cringe. My first job was with a non-profit and we had to share rooms for conferences. They did their best to pair up people who already got along or those who might have similar lifestyles (younger people with younger people).

    But now this sounds like a bizarre form of torture after years of enjoying my own space in my own room. I hope that I don’t have this happen in my current job. Fortunately, I tend to travel alone and when I do have to travel with my boss, he’s a man and I’m not and I can’t see that happening.

  3. Laurel said,

    Ditto the appropriate sleeping clothing. I’ve only had to do this twice, once when I was interning (I was fresh from college and sharing a room in the sorority house, so it wasn’t that big a deal) and on my last trip b/c the hotel was sold out. Luckily last time, we got a total of 5 hours of sleep for two nights, so our time in the room was minimal. It was comforting to know that both of us wouldn’t oversleep (a chronic fear of mine when there’s an early morning event).

  4. KC said,

    So happy I’ve yet to work anywhere that’s made this necessary. Closest I came was a consulting gig where we had to have an “office” in the state we were working, so they rented a big house and when people were visiting to work on the project, we’d stay in the house. But still, individual rooms.

    Business travel is stressful enough without adding the discomfort of sharing a room with a coworker on top of it.

  5. Chris said,

    I’ve only had to do this twice, in (gulp) 30 or so years of traveling. Each time was for a big company meeting, and in each case I was just happy that I was one of the lucky folks that got to attend and network with my colleagues from around the world. Would not be happy at all if it happened these days on a “normal” business trip.

  6. Al said,

    I was asked to do this and paid for my own room rather than subject myself to a complete loss of privacy. I fart incessantly at night and can only imagine the abuse I would get in the office once this got out.

  7. Mike said,

    Yes, this can definitely be awkward and uncomfortable. There’s this website that helps you anonymously notify your co-worker of things about him or her that may bother you It’s yoneighbors.com. Pretty cool.

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