We market various coworking office spaces throughout London and the United Kingdom. Thanks to our experiences with clients and providers of office space, we have been able to gather an understanding of what it is that everyone wants from their workspace.
Whether you are a freelancer working solo or a start-up that is just setting out, coworking is a great solution for office space. It is convenient, affordable, sociable, and offers great levels of flexibility. It gives members all the benefits and facilities of a serviced office, but with a focus on sharing the space.
Of course, when you put strangers together in any situation, there are always going to be a few issues. In most cases, it will be relatively insignificant - a pet peeve here, a minor difference of opinion there, but sometimes, it can be a little more trying. Coworking has its own rules and conventions, and it can take the uninitiated time to understand these.
Don’t worry though, as here, we have put together the dos and don’ts of coworking, so that you can make sure you are not the talk of the space for all the wrong reasons.
1. Make sure that you are friendly - but not TOO friendly
It sounds obvious, but simply smiling at your coworking neighbours when you walk in can make a huge difference to the working environment that you share. Happier working environments are much more productive and pleasant, but they also can be a great way of making some new friends and valuable contacts for networking.
However, don’t go over the top. It is a shared workspace, so even if you hit it off with another coworking, respect the other people in the room and don’t treat it like a common room by having loud, personal conversations. Being social is a huge part of coworking, but consider the other people using the space too.
2. Consider your use of the phone
The majority of fully equipped coworking spaces will have an area especially for you to make phone calls or even booths that are soundproofed. Some offices have it as a rule that you must use them for calls, others it is just there for your convenience. Even if they are not mandatory, make use of them anyway. It might be easier just to answer your call from your friend at your desk, especially if it is a brief one, but think about your co-workers. They are trying to work and hearing your dinner plans can be distracting. Again, respect the fact that it is a shared place and move away from your desk for phone calls.
3. Think about your volume
What one person or one workplace considers acceptable background noise, another may not. When it comes to coworking, think about the noise that you are creating. Heavy footsteps, letting doors bang, and having music blasting from your headphones can be intolerable in some places, so make sure you are not the one that everyone rolls their eyes at. Find out what the noise policy is of your office provider and stick to it.
4. Tidy up after yourself
While your desk at home might be strewn with coffee cups, wrappers from food, screwed up paper and other rubbish, don’t allow your coworking space to become the same. No one wants to work next to someone who is untidy and messy. It can affect concentration and productivity and is not pleasant for anyone to see or be near. Put your rubbish straight into the bin and tidy up after yourself.
5. Don’t stink out the break room
Keeping yourself topped up with food and drink is pretty vital when it comes to working effectively. Most office providers recognize this, so have a coffee bar or a break room for you to grab something to eat or heat up your food. Make use of this - but again, respect the others. Do you really need to heat that tuna dish in the microwave? Will the next person to use the room appreciate the smell of your lunch wafting through? Eat, drink… and be considerate.
To help maintain your energy levels, most co-working sites provide a coffee bar or snack counter. Many offices also come equipped with self-service kitchens and dining areas. Make sure to follow the house rules when it comes to heating and eating. It’s unlikely anyone else will appreciate your leftover tuna bake as much as you. Least of all whoever’s next in the queue for the microwave.
6. Follow the rules
All coworking spaces will have their own set of rules and it is important to familiarise yourself with them, as to not make enemies. Some places don’t mind if you bring your child or your pet dog in with you, as long as they are well-behaved. Others will not allow it at all for safeguarding reasons and because, well, a cute dog can be rather a big distraction!
7. Limit your visitors
By their very nature, coworking spaces are sociable spaces. However, make sure that any visitors that you have are appropriate and relevant. Someone you want to network with? Sure, the odd informal meeting in the coffee area is fine. Formal client meetings? Yes - there is almost always a dedicated meeting room for that! Your best friend coming to hang out and take advantage of the coffee machine? No. That’s going to get backs up. If they aren’t visiting for work-related reasons, don’t let them visit.
8. Wear actual clothes
No one is expecting you to turn up to a coworking space in a suit and tie. That is not what coworking spaces are about. They are much more relaxed and informal. In fact, they encourage casual and comfortable. However, casual and comfortable does not mean turning up in your PJs and slippers. Actual clothes are generally a requirement.
9. Don’t hog the facilities
No one likes a printer hog, or a conference room commandeer. It is not your office - it is an office you are sharing with other people, so make sure you give other people a chance to use the facilities as well. In the same vein, if you have a reservation and no longer need it, make sure you phone up and cancel to give someone else a chance to make use of it.
10. Leave on time
Some coworking spaces are open all day and night, but most aren’t. Take note of the closing times of the office, and make sure that you are packed up and ready to leave at that time. Don’t make the host have to come round and kick you out at closing time. It can get more than a little awkward.
At the very heart of coworking is mutual respect and consideration for the people with whom you are sharing the space with. Bear these etiquette points in mind and you will be ready to join in with the coworking community.