So a friend of mine recently went on a weeklong business trip with some of her colleagues. She works for a small company – and in the spirit of small companies everywhere, her boss was eager to cut costs wherever possible. And wouldn’t you know it, but most hotel rooms have two beds in them!
Which is how my friend ended up sharing a hotel room with a coworker (who happened to be one of her direct employees) so that her boss could save on business travel costs.
I never thought I’d write an article on this. I have envisioned many an unusual scenario, and I have tried mightily to help people tackle the various and sundry problems that are forever plaguing the working world. But it never occurred to me to help people figure out what to do when they’re locked in a hotel room with a chronic snorer or really, really have to poop but aren’t certain if doing so will somehow harm their career.
But here we are, and so I soldier on. If you’re ever trapped in a hotel room with a colleague because your boss simultaneously thinks it’ll be a fun bonding moment and obviously has no fear whatsoever of a harassment suit, here’s how to make the best of it and what to tell your boss if you don’t want to do it ever again.
Acknowledge the Awkwardness – I guarantee your roommate is just as uncomfortable as you are. Even something as simple as, “I guess I should have packed my footie pajamas” will alleviate some of the tension and let both of you relax as much as will be possible.
Sleep Fully Clothed – Just in case, you know, you were wondering about that.
Leave The Room So Your Roommate Can Shower and Change – This should be a simple agreement. One of you can go downstairs and get breakfast or make phone calls or read the newspaper or steal leftover room service from other rooms while the other one showers, dresses, and gets ready. Just make sure that if you’re the second person to get ready, you both agree on a definite timeframe so that you don’t come back when your roommate is still in the towel turban.
Tell Your Boss You Don’t Like Sleeping With Your Employees – And I recommend that exact phrase, by the way. “Hey boss, I would prefer not to sleep with my employees.” As long as your boss has a decent sense of humor, that will break the ice before you have one of those frank professional conversations. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), it’s not illegal for your boss to have you share a room, but SHRM recommends against room sharing since it can cause “employee relation issues”. Talk to your boss about your legitimate concerns – for example, “after spending the whole day at a trade show with Becky, just the idea of sharing a room with her makes my eye twitch”. At worst it will make sure your (well-intentioned yet clueless) boss is made aware of the issue, and at best it will get you your own room the next time you travel.
And there you go! Tune in next time when I try to help you survive when your boss asks you to care for his pet tiger, or invites herself to your anniversary dinner with your spouses, or whatever weird issue it’ll be. Because for some reason I feel like we’re only scratching the surface of how unusual the working world can be. We’re in for some fun times!
Have you ever had to share a room on a business trip? Let’s have story time in the comments!