While these fellas make some very good points about co-habitating with coworkers (especially the following: “You might think this would be a recipe for conflict, but a tradition of radical honesty keeps tempers cool.”), it’s also important to remember a few things about living with the people you work with.
- It can create an insular society; one that is both a part of traditional society and outside it. That can be a troublesome and difficult dichotomy to undertake. People in this sort of situation create their own rules and value system and usually adhere to them exceptionally well, but they are also expected to stand by the normative societal roles. Something that is acceptable within that bubble might not be acceptable in the outside world. “Radical honesty”, for example, might not be taken in the manner it is intended by someone how does not live within the bubble. That could lead to larger problems depending with whom one chooses to be “radically honest”.
- Relationships can get dicey. Spending that much time with someone can be detrimental. Even with boundaries, even with separate living spaces, spending that much time together can break down bonds that were once strong and eventually cause their deterioration.
- When Sex gets involved. I begrudge no one their private life and believe they have the right to do what they like, but sometimes when people live in that close proximity to one another and sex gets thrown into the mix it can upset the apple cart pretty quickly. Personal lives and Professional lives mixing like this cause them to often directly impact the other and it is important that the people pursuing a sexual or romantic relationship keep that part of their life as far away from their professional lives as possible. Those two crossing can affect the entire “office” and things said in the “office” can affect things in the bedroom. (This is not easy and therefore ought to be approached with extreme caution.)
- Falling into “roles”. As in who cooks dinner, who cleans up, who scrubs the tub. If one person loves taking a toothbrush to the grout in the bathroom, so be it. But if one person is always cooking and never gives anyone else who might want to an opportunity, there could be tension and resentment.
- Which brings me back to “Radical Honesty”. This is the most important thing to remember when existing in this sort of situation. One of the best managed co-habitation with coworkers experiences I have ever had was, in part, to the agreed upon house rule of “No apologies”; we could be brutally honest with one another and, if we hurt each others’ feelings, we talked it out. But it only truly worked when everyone was on board. If one person isn’t on board with this basic understanding, tension will grow, and it will be bad; like dumping water on a Mogwai.
This sort of lifestyle is fascinating and mind boggling to those who have never experienced it. And there are plenty of reasons to pursue this sort of situation, like the original article says. As with everything, there is also a downside. But as long as everyone agrees to certain house rules and doesn’t just say they do when they really don’t, and everyone is passionate about the work they are doing, then this is a wonderful way to operate. Some very strong lifelong friendships are made and, if people haven’t learned them yet, you gain some valuable experience about living with other people. I would recommend doing something to this effect at least once in your life, even if you lived in a dorm in college, this experience is one I wouldn’t trade for the world.