While a home office may seem ideal for many, it turns out that establishing boundaries between your work and personal life can be challenging when you work in the same place you live. Surveys show that employees who work in coworking spaces, however, consistently rate their experiences as being a six on a seven-point scale. Whether you own your own business or work for a larger one, here are 10 tips for making the most of your coworking space.
1. Explore Your Options
Just like a regular office, every coworking space will have a specific and unique culture. Before settling on a space, you want to be sure your and/or your business fits in well with that culture. It’s also important to ensure you have the right level of privacy or that a socially active coworking space doesn’t actually become a distraction to getting work done.
You also want to ensure it has whatever amenities you might need, such as access to a conference room, a suitable break room or kitchen, access to audio-visual equipment or copying and faxing services. One key to finding the right location is to utilize a daily or weekly membership before signing up for one long term.
2. Attend Networking Events
Networking events in a coworking space can include mixers, guest speakers, workshops, holiday parties or other types of events. Not only do these events present a great opportunity to get to know your coworkers better, but they can also help broaden and expand your own personal horizons. As a CPA, you may not often have an opportunity to attend many film/ video workshops, but in a coworking space, you just might – and you never know what you might learn.
Socializing at work has been shown to have a number of significant advantages, and socializing in a coworking space may prove to have even more. When you socialize in a traditional office environment, you are generally socializing with people privy to all of the same information you are about the same type of business. In a coworking space, however, you may end up having conversations with individuals that work in entirely different spheres that may provide inspiration or an entirely new way of looking at your own industry.
4. Know the Management
Most coworking spaces have a community manager who keeps their finger on the pulse of the community. Remember, the coworking community does not just consist of the individuals or businesses currently in residence, it also includes all those who have passed through. Not only can the community manager help you get the most from all the space has to offer, they can also help point you to outside resources as well.
5. Be Helpful – In The Right Way
It may seem like being helpful is always a good thing, but in fact it is not. Helping can be broken down into two kinds of assistance: reactive and proactive. Proactive helping is jumping in where your assistance has not been asked for. Not only can it actually complicate matters, but it can also cause friction. Reactive helping, however, is helping when you have been asked to help. Do seek to be helpful, but almost make sure it is reactive and not proactive.
6. Maintain Your Productivity
Like any office, there can be any number of distractions to productivity. While a coworking space can actually help you increase productivity, like most things in life, it all depends on what you make of it. Just like working in any office, you want to use whatever tools and resources are at your disposal to continuously maintain and optimize productivity.
7. Get the Right Equipment
Open office plans certainly offer a number of advantages, but one of the biggest disadvantages tends to be noise. If you are easily distracted by noise, you may want to invest in some good noise-cancelling headphones. You may also want to invest in a spare set of whatever cables or cords you need for your electronics and make sure you have a comfortable place to sit and work. Not everyone wants or needs to sit at a desk, but if that is what you need, make sure you have one that you can work comfortably at.
8. Become Part of the Community
Another great advantage of coworking spaces is the community they foster, which can provide the benefit of a healthy company culture. While you should not be constantly trying to sell your product or service to coworkers, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer and seek out expert opinions or advice. Don’t just look for opportunities to sell, look for opportunities to connect.
9. Take Advantage of Meeting Rooms
Most coworking spaces offer a variety of meeting rooms, from conference rooms to training rooms. One caveat to this is that there is often competition for these rooms, so be sure and book one as soon as you know you will need one. There may be nothing more frustrating than setting up a meeting only to discover you have no place to meet.
10. Be Respectful of Others
Some of the key principles for navigating well in a coworking space are the same principles that can help you navigate well through life. These can include things like cleaning up after yourself or making sure you are not creating a distraction to others.
Unlike a traditional office, a coworking space offers a far greater amount of flexibility. If you decide to work from home one day, you don’t need to check in with anyone. In addition, coworking spaces are often open 24/7, which allows you to set the schedule you want to work at whatever time is optimal for you. There are certainly any number of advantages to working in a coworking space, but only if you approach it wisely.