Coworking space etiquette – 10 ways to do it right

A flexible collective work environment like we have here at Shared is awesome in so many ways. Coworking offers fantastic networking opportunities, you can use the facilities and meeting rooms when you need them, and it sure is a lot less lonely and more organised than working from home. 

Remote work and flexible working environments are more common than ever as technology advances and the corporate world has become more relaxed. Because of this, coworking spaces are thriving communities of creatives, remote teams working for established companies, start-ups, and gig-economy workers. That’s something you’d want to be part of! 

To be an effective and well-liked member of a shared working space such as this one, you’re expected to stick to a few important dos and don’ts. Essentially, it means you must always use your common sense. We’re all busy people and cultivating a positive environment where the space, amenities and services are shared and mutually respected benefits everyone. 

When working in close proximity to others, there are some golden rules to follow as they are vital to your own and others’ peace of mind. Here’s our Top 10: 

  • Respect the space 

One of the most important rules to follow when you’re working in a shared office is to clean up after yourself. Keeping the office, meeting rooms, bathrooms and kitchen clean and tidy for the next person will go a long way towards keeping everyone happy. Always be tidy and observant of your environment and your co-workers, be professional and helpful at all times, and don’t say or do anything that could make others feel uncomfortable.

  • Be nice and say hello 

When you join a shared workspace, introduce yourself to the people there and start a conversation. You don’t need to tell them your whole life story, but you never know what opportunities you could be missing out on if you just sit down, keep your head down and slap your headphones on. You never know who you may meet in a shared workspace. It could be your next potential client or your next potential life partner. Who knows? 

  • Watch the noise 

With many people sharing a space, the volume can get a little loud. There’s no need to whisper all day long but do make sure to always be considerate when you’re on the phone or chatting with someone. Match your volume to those around you and lower your voice to avoid disruption. Watch videos with your headphones on and put your phone on silent/vibrate mode. You may love your ringtone, but others could get really annoyed when your phone constantly rings or pings. 

  • Be resourceful 

Although collaboration is valued, it’s also expected when sharing a workspace that you’re as self-sufficient as you can be. Being proactive is key. Bring your own supplies and if there’s a problem, see first if you can fix it yourself. Wherever possible, figure things out on your own before you disturb other people with your questions. Need the Wi-Fi password, a power outlet or an extension cord? Have a look around and see what you can find before you ask. 

  • Respect boundaries 

Don’t borrow office supplies from someone’s space without asking first, and if you do borrow something with their permission, make sure to give it back. Observe people before you interrupt them. If he or she is on the phone, typing, or counting lines on a spreadsheet it’s probably not the best time to approach them for a chat. Don’t assume that because someone is visible that you can launch into a conversation without first checking if they are available. 

  • No meetings at your desk

If you’re discussing a project with a colleague or having a conversation with a client, move it to either a meeting room or outside to make sure you are not disturbing anyone nearby. The same goes for phone calls. If a client calls you or you get a personal call, leave your desk to speak to them away from the others. If you need to handle a sensitive issue or conduct an aspect of your business that is confronting or private, do it outside or behind closed doors.   

  1. Don’t ignore hygiene 

Bad smells come in many forms, and they are all nasty and disturbing. Nip stink in the bud by using your common sense. Keep your shoes on if your feet could be smelly. Don’t douse yourself in husky musk and if you’ve popped outside for a smoke, freshen up and wash your hands before you re-enter the shared space. If you go for a run or pump out a gym session during your lunchbreak, change into some fresh clothes when going back to work to avoid that dreaded B.O. 

  • Don’t overuse the amenities

As shared equipment is available for all, make sure to not overdo it. This includes booking meeting rooms back-to-back, not respecting the allocated times, helping yourself to more than enough of the provided tea and coffee in the communal kitchen, or using all the paper in the copy machine. If you need to print a large number of pages, let people know before you do it. That way they can print the one or two pages they need before you start hogging the machine.  

  • Consider what you’re eating

From fish to popcorn and from cabbage to broccoli, there are all sorts of foods that will not only stink out the microwave but linger in the air long after you’ve eaten them. As tempting as it may be to heat up last night’s seafood chowder for lunch, it’s best to leave it at home. Munching loudly on crisps or pretzels can be a real nuisance to others, too. Make a conscious effort to eat them quietly at your desk or leave them at home. 

  1. Be mindful of bugs 

An open, collaborative office environment is fun, but it is also a playground for bugs and germs. Make sure you always have plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer available at your desk and if you feel a cold coming on or if you’re already feeling sick, do you co-working space members a favour and stay in bed or work from home until you’re feeling better.

A shared workspace etiquette is a necessity because it preserves the integrity of the space. Addressing potential problems early on eliminates distractions, prevents friction, and improves privacy ensures which are the essentials of a successful and productive coworking space. It means everyone is on the same page with what’s acceptable and what’s not, so everyone can focus on getting the most out of their coworking experience.