Working from a coworking space comes with numerous well-known benefits that continue to attract businesses and professionals from all walks of life. From indispensable business supplies to amenities that enhance collaboration and employee experience, coworking members have all the essentials laid out for them for a productive day. And as with any other communal space, coworking offices are also governed by a set of rules designed to cultivate a positive and respectful working environment.
Albeit different at first glance, the common courtesies discussed in this article all boil down to the Golden Rule: we should treat coworkers as we would like to be treated and leave the space as we would like to find it.
1. Say Hello
Perhaps it isn’t the very first thing that comes to mind when we think about coworking space etiquette, but saying hello is arguably high on the list. Little things like this go a long way toward creating a friendly atmosphere. Naturally, there’s no need to make small talk with everyone you pass by, but greeting people shows you’re approachable and sociable. This becomes especially important in a collaborative workspace where members value social interactions and networking.
2. Respect Boundaries
Coworking spaces are the ideal places to meet new people and connect with like-minded individuals. Still, we should keep in mind that members go there first and foremost to focus and get their work done. It becomes essential, then, to read the room and not interrupt or disrupt someone’s workflow when they’re visibly absorbed in a task.
Shared spaces are called ‘collaborative’ for a reason, but we need to be aware that not everyone will want to collaborate all the time. Of course, interactions and networking remain encouraged, but they can be reserved for breakout areas or events organized for that specific purpose.
3. Be Mindful of Space
Another important house rule concerns the space itself. Whether we’re talking about dedicated desks or common area facilities, members are expected to be mindful of their surroundings. For instance, not taking someone else’s desk is just as important as not spreading out or invading other people’s workspaces with personal belongings. This also ties in with how members use the shared amenities and common areas. Because these are meant to benefit everyone, it would be disrespectful to overuse or monopolize amenities, be they printers, copiers, phone booths, meeting rooms or even coffee machines. Naturally, it can happen that the paper runs out or the printer jams while you’re using them, in which case letting the on-site staff know about the issue is the best way to go about it.
4. Keep Noise Levels to a Minimum
It’s no secret that most people do their best work when they’re not interrupted or distracted, so keeping the overall noise levels down in a coworking space is crucial. Of course, this quiet policy comes nowhere near the stricter rules practiced in libraries, but you should still aim to avoid whatever disruptions you can.
For instance, casual and personal conversations should be held outside the common work area. Similarly, phone booths are perfect for answering and making phone calls, meeting rooms are ideal for conference calls, while breakout areas are there for socializing. In case you’re someone that gets inspired by music or podcasts, consider using headphones to not disturb your coworkers.
5. Adhere to the Schedule
While some coworking spaces offer members 24/7 access, others are open only during specific time intervals. As such, being aware of when offices open and close is essential to them running properly and to your productivity. Along the same lines, make sure to vacate conference rooms on time to avoid interfering with other users’ schedules. Another thing to be mindful of is canceling reservations – if you no longer want a service, it’s best to cancel it right away so that it becomes available for anyone else wanting a similar time slot.
6. Keep Everything Neat and Tidy
Cleaning the workspace was common practice even before the pandemic, but nowadays it understandably gained more importance. Besides keeping it organized by not leaving the usual coffee cups, papers, pens or any other personal belongings behind, members are now encouraged to sanitize the desks they use, as well.
Kitchens, bathrooms and other common areas deserve the same attention. Naturally, most coworking centers employ cleaning personnel to provide healthy and sanitary conditions but doing your bit in leaving the workspace as you found it remains the right thing to do.
7. Stay Home When Unwell
It goes without saying that being truly considerate of others entails going or staying home when you’re feeling sick. Whether it’s symptoms of a common cold, COVID or any other potentially infectious illness, it’s best to reduce risks by prevention.
Most of these codes of conduct are evergreen and well-known among professionals and businesses that frequent coworking spaces. They, in turn, would probably agree that when put into practice, these etiquette rules nurture a stimulating environment where there’s room for heads-down work, brainstorming, networking, and everything in between.