Just like any other office, there are do’s and don’ts to working in a shared workspace. This guide explores what exactly you should never do when renting a coworking office.
Depending on who you are, where you are, and what you need, a coworking space can be a great boon – or not worth your time. It’s all about understanding what coworking spaces are for, and what they’re not for. First and foremost, let’s define a coworking space. A coworking space is an office space that consists of several independent parties, including:
What is a Shared Workspace?
Shared workspaces are designed to appeal to a broad selection of workers, rather than providing a very specific atmosphere, but they are still offices. They exist to provide a place for people without office space of their own to work away from home, either in a team or potentially in close cooperation with other workers.
However, they do differ from normal offices. Hierarchies aren’t visible. Cubicles don’t exist. There are no dedicated spaces for specific members or individuals. There are different spaces within any coworking community – spaces for socialization, spaces for group work, and spaces for concentrated solo endeavors – but all the trappings of a normal office melt away and no longer exist.
There’s also an unspoken etiquette that comes with working at a coworking space, and it revolves around understanding that this is an environment for everyone’s benefit – and that by working together, you’ll each bring one another further along. In line with that, here are six things you should never do if you’ve rented a spot in a coworking space.
1. Don’t: Heavily Waste Time
Nothing begets nothing. While there is some data that suggests that coworking spaces improve productivity and are certainly a boon for some creative types, the coworking model doesn’t change that work still needs to be done, and work is, for the most part, work. You sit down, concentrate, and focus on the task at hand.
For many who are easily distracted, coworking spaces can present a greater challenge. If you simply cannot be self-sufficient at home, then the colloquial and social environment of a coworking space can help you get into the swing of things. There’s a fine balance between being more productive in a positive environment and simply wasting the majority of the work day getting into long conversations with other coworkers.
It takes time to make it to a coworking location, get set up, plug in your laptop, get your workstation in order, and procure that first cup of tea or coffee. By then, you’ll likely have run into several other coworkers, all of whom might have something to say. That’s great when you aren’t busy – but when you are, efficiency is key.
Setting limits for yourself and being strict with your time management is key if you’re going to work from a shared workspace location. Know when you can afford to stay and talk, and when you simply need to close off from others and be with your work.
2. Don’t: Rely on Others to Do Your Work
Coworking spaces become a great place to coordinate and cooperate on others, find new partners for brand new ventures, and brainstorm with your team. But it’s common knowledge that everyone needs to pull their own weight, just like in any other office or workplace.
When people talk about collaborative efforts and the networking potential of such spaces, an emphasis is placed on the potential for collective productivity – one hand washes the other, and that way, we’re all better off.
3. Don’t: Join Solely to Fight Loneliness
Coworking might seem like a good way to simply get to know more people or hang around others for a while – but if that’s your issue, then you should work on your social life in general. If you can do your work at home no problem, and don’t have issues motivating yourself to be productive (and don’t need to work with a physical team to begin with), then a coworking space will very clearly become more of a time sink than a way to improve yourself.
It’s important to consider working with others if it’s clear that you don’t work well on your own – but if you do, and simply need some company, find other places to socialize. Coworking spaces are primarily for work. While it’s nice to make some friends here and there, that’s not their primary function. Instead:
- Hit up a bar
- Go to interesting cafes
- Visit hobby meetups
- Go to the gym
- Take a stroll through the park with your pet
One caveat is that some coworking spaces do feature specific events for socialization, and to build a sort of team spirit. If you’re bored with working from home, or simply lack inspiration, then joining a shared workspace just to be in a different environment can make a difference.
4. Don’t: Spread Rumors and Stoke Flames
An office space is no place for drama or office games. Not only are they disruptive and toxic in a traditional office as well, but they have even less of a place in coworking spaces, which are typically far more open, while hosting a much wider variety of groups and individuals.
Hostile behavior, bullying, and abuses of power are tolerated even less in coworking spaces and will not get you anywhere.
5. Don’t: Skip Events
There’s more to a shared workspace than just work, although that is its primary function. As mentioned previously, some spaces host events and fun activities at the coworking location itself, or in other places.
Rather than skipping out on these because they aren’t exactly conducive to your progress as a company or as an individual, consider joining anyway. Not only can it be a lot of fun, but it helps to bring you closer to others without disturbing them at work. It’s an opportunity to get to know who you’re working alongside, without wasting time. Oftentimes, the events will be held in the same building also.
6. Don’t: Join Just to Find Clients
Coworking spaces are a collaborative experience. While they are a place to network, there’s a difference between building teams and forging connections at a shared workspace to the benefit of everyone and using the space solely to network and market your own endeavors, at the expense of everyone but yourself.
No one likes a spoilsport, and someone who joins a shared workspace just to spam fellow members and talk to them all the time about potential business opportunities without getting any work done is not only wasting their time, but wasting a lot of other people’s time.
They’re making a space that should be collaborative and safe, suddenly feel hostile and exploitative. There are good ways and bad ways to use a coworking space, so be mindful of your shared workspace etiquette.