As more of us are starting to make remote work part of our regular routines, more co-working spaces are cropping up. You may have found that working from home every day is not best for you. Perhaps you have children or housemates and there are too many distractions going on at home. Or you’ve found that you miss how a commute can help you get out of ‘work-mode’ at the end of the day. Or perhaps you want a bit of background buzz and a change of scene after more than a year of Covid restrictions. Maybe the internet just isn’t fast enough at home. If any of these are the case, then you might want to give a co-working space a go.
Co-working spaces are great for boosting productivity and a new environment can be a fantastic way to unlock your creativity. They are also great places to meet like minded people and they are valuable networking opportunities as well.
However, don’t forget that you’re not the only one using the space and there are some behaviours that are and aren’t acceptable, just like in the office. Here are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to shared workspaces.
The most important thing is to make sure you’re mindful of other people using the space. Be polite and make an effort to say hi, especially if you start to see the same faces regularly but don’t be pushy if people clearly need to get on with some work. Make sure the people around you have enough space and don’t encroach on this by spreading out your possessions all over a shared desk. Respect other people’s possessions and don’t move them around without asking, or borrow things without permission. If someone’s got headphones on, that’s a sign that they probably don’t want to be disturbed. Finally, don’t use all the powerpoints available to a shared desk all at once charging all of your devices. This definitely isn’t the way to make friends.
You won’t be expected to stay silent all day or to have conversations with collaborators in whispers but be aware of the other people using the space. Be polite and keep the noise down as much as possible.
You should be able to judge what level of noise is acceptable by the general atmosphere in the room. If it’s early in the morning and everyone else has their heads down, you might want to go to a meeting room to take a longer call. However, if there’s a general buzz in the room with music on and people chatting, you should be fine to pop some headphones on and get on with a quick video call at your desk.
One of the great things about going to a shared workspace is the opportunity to meet other remote workers, build your own community and perhaps you’ll find some new work headed your way via these connections. Get chatting to the people around you but perhaps take longer social conversations through to the kitchen.
Some co-working spaces allow you to book out a designated space for days or even weeks, however, others have a hot desking policy. Keeping things clean and tidy makes the space a lot nicer for other people and encourages everyone else to look after the space too. This is especially important if you’re using a shared, open-plan space. The last thing you want is to turn up at a workstation and find that someone has left rubbish or crumbs behind. Make sure you don’t do this yourself and take everything with you when you leave.
It’s not just your workstation either, make sure you clean up after yourself in the kitchen. Wash up any equipment that you use and don’t leave your used tea bags hanging around in the sink for someone else to deal with. If the house rules are that you only eat in the kitchen, make sure you do this.
The general rule with these spaces is to leave everything as you found it so it’s ready for the next person. Everything will be much easier and smoother for everyone using the space if this rule is followed.
You might rely on your phone to keep up with communications from work, however, if notifications are pinging every minute or so, it will get on other people’s nerves very quickly. Even if you’ve got it on vibrate, the buzzing sound on a table can be very irritating. Keep your phone on silent and if a call comes through while the room is relatively quiet, consider popping out to a corridor or a breakout room to talk.
At the same time, unless you’ve got your headphones plugged in, put your laptop speakers on mute too as not everyone wants to know when you’ve got an email.
Before you turn the volume on the speakers up or turn the air con down, ask the other people sharing the space if that’s okay with them. Not everyone can concentrate as well with background music and you might make other people uncomfortable if you start messing with the thermostat.
Even if you have more relaxed Friday afternoons, for example, and like to turn up the music as you wind down ready for the weekend, other people might have deadlines to meet. It might just be better to just pop a set of headphones on instead. Be thoughtful before you do things that might have an impact on other people.
Your co-working space might have meeting rooms that you can book out. If so, this is a great perk which helps when you need to take calls where confidential things will be discussed or need to get a group of colleagues together in the same room. Be considerate with these, especially if demand is high. Try not to book the room for longer than you need and leave the space as you found it. If your meeting is cancelled and you no longer need the meeting room, make sure you make it available for other people to use.
The kitchen can often be the source of arguments in the office. Don’t allow this to be the case in your shared workspace. Keep things clean and tidy and be thoughtful with your use of the appliances. And definitely don’t touch anything in the fridge that isn’t yours.
To really make the most of your shared workspace, attend networking events that might be organised to help you get to know other people using the space. Along with making some new connections, you’ll also learn more about how other people like using the space. Having some friendly faces at your shared workspace will also be a boost when you turn up in the morning.
Following the guidelines above will help you have a happy experience in any shared workspace. If the space has its own clearly defined set of rules, it should go without saying that you should follow these as well. Most of the points above should come well within the bounds of common sense and once you’re comfortable in your shared workspace, these things should be second nature. Think about other people and respect them and their possessions and also the space itself. Clean up after yourself and leave things as you find them. This way, everyone can turn up and get stuck into a productive day’s work without any problems.