Coworking spaces are exploding in popularity, especially as more people seek out flexible workspace solutions as an alternative to working from home. The industry for coworking is now estimated at around $26 billion, and the number of coworking spaces continues to rise with each passing month.
When a group of people with different jobs or from different companies come together to work in a coworking space, there are rules of etiquette that should be followed in order to create the most productive work environment possible.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 10 things to NOT do in a coworking space so you can maintain the perfect ambiance for your collaborative area.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why people choose coworking spaces.
Why do people choose coworking spaces?
Coworking is exploding in popularity, mainly due to the many benefits associated with sharing office space. Whether you’re a freelancer, a company employee, or a corporate company, working together with others under one roof while doing your independent activities offers a lot of benefits, including the following:
– Coworking is affordable: Coworking allows people from different companies to come together under one roof and use the same resources. This makes it a lot more affordable for everyone.
– Coworking is flexible: Unlike traditional offices, this style of work with people sharing a common office for individual activity offers a lot of flexibility, particularly for freelancers, solo entrepreneurs, and employees of corporate companies.
– Coworking is all about community: Coworking is a great alternative for those who don’t want to work from home and people who want to avoid feeling isolated. It offers a community that can help individuals grow. This can be especially helpful for people who have started a blog and spend 10-12 hours a day with their head buried in a computer.
These are just a few of the basic reasons why so many people choose coworking spaces over traditional alternatives these days. Now, let’s take a look at why coworking etiquette matters.
Why coworking etiquette matters
In addition to providing you with a base of operations, a coworking space also has the potential to help you expand your business and build connections that can benefit you for a lifetime.
There are a lot of different things that people hope to get out of a coworking space, such as:
- Positive social interaction
- … and so on.
Being a considerate coworker helps everyone (including you) get the most out of that experience. That’s why it’s important to understand the rules of etiquette when it comes to shared office spaces.
Below, we take a look at 10 big faux pas to avoid in order to maintain a healthy environment in your coworking space.
10 things you should never do in a coworking space
With more and more people joining communal facilities across the globe, strange behavior is bound to appear now and again. But, you can use the tips below to ensure that you aren’t the one bringing weirdness into your office space.
1. Be a loner
Coworking comes with a lot of positives. However, being a loner in a shared space can undo many of these benefits. Remember, a coworking culture is all about positive social interaction, networking, and/or collaborating with your neighbors.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a company of one that’s created a successful software product, or if you’re a retail arbitrage expert looking for more tips on finding profitable products. If you don’t connect with others while you’re in the coworking space, you’re hurting your networking opportunities.
By isolating yourself, you lose out on vast opportunities to gain insight into other projects, ideas, or products. Remember that by interacting with fellow coworkers you can not only land your next gig, but also may come up with a brand new idea for a home-based hustle. You will miss out on learning and networking opportunities that could possibly be of advantage to you in the future. That’s why it’s important to show interest in what your fellow coworkers are doing and get a conversation going.
Besides joining the professional conversation, it is also worth it to engage with other people in the coworking space on a more personal level. Hosting little birthday gatherings, Friday afternoon beers or weekend outings are all an important part of a coworking experience.
2. Not mind your volume
While socializing is important, you should also be considerate of your talking and/or music/video volumes as some people will feel distracted from their work. The last thing you want when you hunker down to do some serious work is to be interrupted by someone playing their music without headphones or broadcasting their weekend adventures to everyone within earshot.
Some coworking spaces have areas that are strictly “quiet areas” not intended for socialization. But even for those that don’t, make sure you always mind your volume in the workspace to avoid ruining the atmosphere for others around you.
3. Bring personal drama to work
Just like in a typical work environment, it is not smart to bring your personal (or work) drama to a collaborative arena. Although the people in your coworking space can be great sounding boards when you need to hash out an idea, do your best to keep your conversations professional and leave the drama at home.
You can commiserate about clients and share funny pet peeves with your fellow coworkers, but don’t bring conflicts that can cause negative energy as this will only bog down creativity and hinder productivity.
4. Only join when you have everything figured out
Some people avoid joining a coworking space out of fear that they don’t have their business sorted out enough yet. But, that causes them to miss out on one of the best advantages of joining a coworking space in the first place.
Coworking spaces are a great place to network and grow your business. Whether you feel like you’re ready or not, being part of a coworking community will net you a lot of benefits.
Jeremy Moser of uSERP, a bootstrapped agency that grew directly from coworking spaces explains: “Coworking spaces are a goldmine for everything from referrals and symbiotic business relationships to hiring. You can find a ton of ambitious people in coworking spaces doing amazing things. We started in one with just two employees, and have even found freelancers that we still work with years later.”
So, instead of struggling in silence, join a community of like-minded people who will make you feel less lonely and offer value, encouragement, support, and feedback to help you find success in your business.
As you can see from the graph below, coworking is booming – as are the opportunities to help you grow your business.
5. Spam other members
Coworking groups give you the ability to make organic connections. They can lead to new business, and open up channels to share ideas (both work and hobbies) that you are excited about.
But, you must keep it focused and avoid spamming your coworkers with pitches or personal announcements. Remember, people have limited time and attention and you need to choose the right outlet where you will find people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.
Here are some places to search for people with similar interests:
- Networking events organized by your coworking space
- The area for company information and business cards
- Your shared community’s online chat platform
- … and so on.
I spoke with Neal Taparia, who runs classic games platform Solitaired, and he met his first beta testers at the networking events at his co-working space. Now they are people he regularly relies on for quick feedback when he is making changes to his solitaire games. When you don’t spam people, but instead make authentic connections at your coworking space, it can help your business in meaningful ways.
6. Leave messes behind
One of the basic rules at coworking spaces is to keep your own workspace tidy and pitch in to clean common areas.
The coworking space belongs to the membership community, and leaving a mess for someone else to clean is something you absolutely should never do. Dispose of your dirty dishes and trash properly and always leave the area how you found it (or better, even).
Many coworking spaces have operators or community leaders on-site who are there to take care of any issues that might arise. However, if they regularly have to pick up after your clean up your mess, then you might find yourself being terminated.
7. Always be the star of the show
If you love being the center of attention and are always trying to be the star of the show, you will quickly gain a reputation for being “that” person.
Working in a shared space means you’re part of a collective, and you need to behave as such. You need to be considerate of others around you. Be polite and courteous, and don’t be the annoying neighbor who is persistent, chatty, and can’t take a hint.
8. Be flakey
To get the most out of your coworking space, you actually have to show up and maintain a schedule for yourself and your employees if you have them. If events or member discussions are planned, make sure you attend so you can take advantage of everything your coworking space has to offer in terms of connection, learning, and networking opportunities.
If you have agreed to take part in certain events with other coworkers, it’s important to be there. The reputation you garner at a coworking space can affect your reputation and that of your business in the community, and being unreliable or flaky is likely to hurt your reputation.
9. Needlessly hog conference rooms
Conference rooms, or any room in a coworking space that has to be “booked” by members for certain amounts of time, need to be accessible to many people. It is to be expected that some people will need to use the conference room a lot more often than others.
But, to avoid needlessly hogging the conference room, don’t do any of the following:
- Frequently booking the conference room “just in case” you need to use it, only to cancel the day of
- Using the conference room for nonbusiness activities (unless otherwise approved)
- Barging into the conference room without checking first if others have booked it
- Constantly requesting the room at the last minute
- Staying past your allotted time in the conference room
10. Take without giving
For most people, the community aspect is one of the main reasons why they join coworking spaces. But while these spaces offer a lot of benefits, it is not in the spirit of coworking to take help and resources from others without reciprocating in some way.
Always make sure that your collaborative work offers mutual benefits. If you want to access other people and their services, in return, you should be willing to offer your services to them.
These are 10 of the top things to NOT do in a coworking space. If you follow the advice in this article, you will be able to help create a more comfortable and inviting atmosphere for everyone.
Are you following these 10 commandments of a great coworking space? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!