For the lone freelancer or the newly launched startup, co-working is the ideal office space solution. Flexible, sociable, affordable and convenient; it provides the facilities typically offered in a serviced office – but with the emphasis on sharing.
However, in any situation where strangers are brought together, incompatibilities can and do occur. Whether they be differences of opinion, pet peeves, or even ruffled feathers. Co-working comes with its own conventions and occasionally, written rules of engagement.
Fret not! We’ve gathered a list of dos and don’ts to avoid becoming the talk of your co-working space – for all the wrong reasons.
1. Be friendly…
It might seem insignificant, but greeting your neighbours with a smile can do wonders to enhance your shared working environment. Not only are happier work environments more productive, making an effort to interact with your fellow co-workers may earn you some valuable networking contacts – or a meet cute.
… but, not too friendly
Know when to reel it in. Even if you and your new BFF are getting on like a house on fire, be aware that you are part of an open, shared workspace. Sociability is of course key to co-working, so there’s no need to resort to passing notes. However shared office spaces are not the place for garrulous conversations.
2. Hanging on the telephone
A fully equipped co-working office will likely have a dedicated area or soundproof booths for phone calls. Even if their use isn’t mandatory, utilise them anyway. Tempting as it may be to take a call at your desk, even a quick one, consider your co-workers. They have more important things to be concerned with than your dinner plans. Respect the shared space and, where possible, take all calls away from the workstations.
3. Turn it down from eleven
Ambient office noise can vary from workplace to workplace and the same applies to co-working spaces. Foot traffic, banging doors, even blaring earphones. What might be considered tolerable in one building may be unacceptable in another. Don’t be that guy. Adhere to the noise policy of your service provider and keep your own ears free of complaints.
4. Keep Britain tidy
Show consideration for the co-working space by keeping your coffee cups, food wrappers and other waste to a minimum. Seriously, no one wants to sit next to a rubbish dump. Organising your desk effectively will both reduce the risk of upsetting your neighbours, and help improve your own productivity.
5. Food for thought
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. Under my roof
Every co-working provider will have a list of guidelines on what they consider appropriate use of the shared office space. Some places may be fine with children or pets being brought to work. Others may not permit them to safeguard the comfort of their clients. Too much cute can indeed be a distraction.
7. Your plus one
All co-working sites provide facilities for meeting with clients or external collaborators on site. Even a break-out area may be offered as an appropriate spot for an informal meeting. However, few will appreciate you signing your mate in to take advantage of the free coffee refills.
Co-working may have a reputation for being sociable and flexible, but it is still a site for professionals. In general, if your visitor is not work related, don’t invite them in.
8. Strike a pose
Many co-working spaces feature trendy offices and eclectic decoration. Some are so far removed from the traditional office, they feel like a home from home – but they aren’t! Unlike the corporate environments of the suited and booted, co-working generally encourages casual to smart casual wear. However, no space is so informal you can turn up in pyjamas. Be discerning about your wardrobe and leave the fluffy slippers under your bed.
9. Live and let… others use the facilities
Whether it’s the networked printer or a meeting room, remember you are sharing them with a myriad of other co-workers. Selfishly commandeering the amenities is a fast-track way to the receiving end of scowls and complaints. Avoid over-booking the conference rooms. Similarly, if you no longer need a reservation, cancel it. There could well be someone else desperate to grab that spot.
10. Last orders
While some co-working spaces are 24 hours, the vast majority aren’t. On entering a new shared workspace, make sure to note their closing time and wrap your work day up at least a few minutes before then. The host will politely remind you to leave if it comes to it, but they shouldn’t have to. Overstaying your welcome always ends up awkward.
Now that our list has you ready to join the world of shared workspaces, remember community is at the heart of successful co-working. Be considerate of others and enjoy being part of a working collective.