Co-working spaces made a noisy entrance into the world of work a few years ago, and with the recent hype and valuation around WeWork, they look set to be sticking around for a while yet. In fact, a total of 2,188 new spaces were opened worldwide in 2018, and figures continue to rise.
This isn’t surprising, as these environments foster collaboration and are being adopted not only by freelancers and “solopreneurs”, but also by the corporate sector. But co-working spaces aren’t always the paradise they’re made out to be. As you can imagine, shared spaces without walls can quickly become chaotic, as you’re spending a good part of your day working closely with people you don’t know.
And so begins the co-working playbook, a guide of what to do and avoid in co-working office life.
- Don’t leave remnants of yourself behind. A legion of workers pass through co-working spaces every day, so imagine if each of them left just one piece of scrunched up paper lying around. Would you enjoy finding a semi-clean work space?
- Do treat your space as you would your home. Keep it clean, wipe it down, and leave it organised – this counts for the kitchen too! Best practice is to leave it better than you found it, as mess is detrimental to productivity.
- Don’t earn the reputation of the worker who takes without giving back. If there was a pot of coffee ready for you when you arrived, someone obviously set it up that way; house elves don’t exist (at least not in the office).
- Do replace what you finish. After drinking the last cup of coffee, using the last roll of toilet paper, or finishing office supplies, always remember to leave the basic amenities ready for your co-working peers.
- Don’t talk as if you were alone in a soundproof room. The main downside to having no walls is the thunderous noise that erupts when there are multiple, contemporaneous conversations and calls.
- Do try to use your indoor voice at all times and move to designated calling areas to speak on the phone. By keeping your voice and tone down, co-worker Kate can carry on working without jamming uncomfortable earplugs into her ears. Although if you’re someone who is sensitive to noise, we can highly-recommend Bose QC35 II headphones.
- Don’t overload on products like perfume that may send someone’s nose haywire, or forget to brush down your clothes to remove your dog’s fur, which may cause allergic reactions. Everyone has different degrees of sensitivities.
- Do always be aware of the susceptibilities and needs of your fellow co-workers and they will always be aware of yours.
- Do bring your pet to pet-friendly co-working spaces! It’s proven that working with animals can work miracles for stress and anxiety and can be a great icebreaker to get to know your peers.
- Don’t drag out meetings beyond the scheduled time. If you have one hour, stick to that hour and leave the room ASAP when you’ve finished.
- Do respect the schedule when booking and using the meeting room in a shared space. Nobody enjoys delays, especially when you only have that small timeslot to work with and you’re about to speak to a potential client.
- Don’t microwave danger foods. Fatty fish, fermented vegetables, and spicy foods, among others, will invade your office space with strong odours that may distract or simply nauseate co-workers.
- Do stick to non-smelly foods, or choose lunches that don’t need reheating like these interesting cold lunch ideas to prepare for work.
While living your co-working office life, you’ll work out for yourself what’s best and what the boundaries are; but there’s no excuse for not knowing the basics now!