Politics and Business
A Guide to Coworking Space Etiquette
Working in an office setting creates an interesting community, with its own culture, rules, and expectations. You often experience a blend of different backgrounds and personalities with the common goal of running the business you work for.
Working in a coworking space adds an extra layer of complexity. In a coworking space, there are often many different businesses working under one roof. Rather than being bound by a common goal, you find yourself surrounded by individuals with different agendas and expectations. Here is a guide to surviving work in coworking spaces without making a major social faux pas.
Check Your Noise Level
As with any office setting, you should always be conscious of your noise level. Being in a coworking space can be quite loud. With different organizations working on different projects–often in an open concept environment– things can get pretty distracting. While you can’t avoid talking to your peers or having phone conversations, try to be aware of your surroundings and keep the noise level down.
Varying Work Expectations
Sharing a coworking space is a great way to meet new people and network outside your organization. However, remember that there are different dynamics and work expectations within different groups in your office space. While your superior– or maybe you are the superior– may encourage conversation with the other groups, your new water cooler friend’s boss may have different ideas. Be sure to be cognizant of other people’s work expectations so that you don’t overstep and cause discord.
One of the pitfalls of using a coworking space is the challenges with internet connectivity. This issue seems to be a commonly named challenge to working in a shared space. As such, be sure you are using the wi-fi for work-related tasks only. Browsing on social media can be done either on data or when you leave the workspace to grab a bite to eat.
With a million projects on the go, it can be a challenge to stay organized. In a coworking space, cleanliness becomes even more of a necessity. You don’t want your papers to get mixed in with someone else’s from another organization, just as you don’t want to smell the food they left sitting around for days at a time. Be respectful of the people you share your environment with by cleaning up after yourself.
Share the Shared Equipment
Printers, scanners, and all other bells and whistles that make up an office are now shared with different people and different organizations. This can create challenges when it comes to shared equipment. If you have special printing needs– for example using letterhead to print letters or having to print hundreds of pages in one sprint– communicate this to the larger group.
As a courtesy, you should let people know if you have a large bundle of papers to print that will result in a backlog of print jobs. That way people can print the one or two pages they need in advance. Letting people know that you need to print on specialty paper, or that you have a confidential document printing will prevent mishaps and frustration. As with anything, communication is key.
Sometimes a short update becomes a long, drawn-out meeting. That’s just the way it happens in business. However, when you have booked a meeting room or private office in a coworking space, someone else may be waiting to get into that room. To be unmistakably clear, they have paid for that space as you have and you are now costing them money.
If your meeting is running over, move it elsewhere or wrap it up and schedule a continuation. This courtesy will prevent tensions with other people and organizations in the shared space.
The popularity of coworking spaces is rapidly growing, as a great way to facilitate freelancers, start-ups, and lower overhead costs for small businesses. By following the etiquette advice listed here, and trying your best to be courteous, you can get the best out of the coworking experience.