Working in a coworking space provides a unique experience and the flexibility to act and carry yourself differently than that of traditional office space. However, the opportunity of having a space to work in some of the most flourishing hubs in the world comes with great responsibility.
While important in traditional office spaces as well, etiquette rules play an even more significant role in shared spaces. Coworking spaces give you the option to leave your desk at any time to network, take advantage of extra services and connect with a unique social environment that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. However, this also comes with challenges in terms of your overall privacy, working without distractions, and working with strangers.
It’s for this reason that you need to practice proper etiquette. And even more so, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to follow some rules for a productive, friendly, safe and healthy workspace. So, check out the etiquette rules below to implement in your coworking space.
Expert Etiquette Rules and Best Practices When Working in a Coworking Space
Be Mindful of Noise Management
The first thing you must be mindful of is your volume. In an open office, sound carries a lot easier, and some spaces may be built in a way that can carry sound through other sections of the workspace, as well.
Different workspaces tend to have noise policies in place, for both communal and private work areas. While in some places you may have the liberty of openly talking aloud on the phone in the kitchen area, in others you will have to practice caution when setting up equipment as to not disturb others with the sounds of your items clicking and connecting about. For instance, several office spaces in New York City that aim to attract writers or playwrights – such as The Center for Fiction or The Writers Room – have strict no talking/no phone/no noise policies to ensure undisturbed conditions to members.
Also, some workspaces are noisy in general, especially in communal areas that have frequent communal events, such as luncheons and networking events.
It’s important to know the noise policy not just for what you can and can’t do, but also to have an understanding if, for example, at a certain time of the week, 80’s rock music is being played in the office. Essentially, you should know where you can Skype and where you can sing aloud.
Clean Up After Yourself
As with parties, social events, and of course, coworking spaces, the best practice is to “leave no trace.” For the sake of the staff and the well-being of other members you work with, leave the workspace as if nobody used it. If you don’t want empty bags of chips and granola bar wrappers left on your desk at the time you book it, make sure you don’t leave any waste for the person booking that desk after you. Also, don’t assume that someone will clean the working spot after you.
Be Considerate of the Shared Areas
For instance, be aware if the kitchen area is also a place for people on laptops to continue working, in which case make sure you aren’t talking too loudly. Some coworking spaces are even beginning to open Yoga studios, gyms, bars, meditation areas, among others. So, just be aware of where you are in the office and adjust your behavior to correspond to that area.
Don’t Overuse Services or Amenities
It can create extra problems and distractions for the members within a workspace when someone oversteps their boundaries. This includes overbooking conference rooms and locking others out, using all the paper in the copy machine, and using a space that is assigned to someone else.
Remember to practice etiquette rules and only use your allocated space, use the conference room for the time you actually need it and stay within the space you rented. If your space is inadequate, you can always find a quiet study area or a phone booth to work without distractions.
Your workspace may not provide all the supplies you need, especially if you’re someone who relies on niche technology or artistic materials to get work done.
While Coworking spaces are improving and can cater to your specific niche based on the community and the nature of the space, being as self-sufficient as you can be is still the best practice. Furthermore, you can collaborate better with other members if they need to borrow some of your supplies and services, and vice-versa.
Know How and Where to Handle Delicate Work Situations
Some business needs to be handled behind closed doors. It’s not a good practice to terminate a partnership or an employee’s contract within a communal space, nor is it proper to handle a difficult conversation or business negotiation in shared areas, like the kitchen. Be mindful of the energy you put out within the workspace to avoid awkward situations and to not be a distraction.
2021 Coworking Space Etiquette: Rules for a Safe & Healthy Workspace
A safe return to the coworking space involves more than the workspace providing members with the health standards required. It also involves members partaking in keeping the coworking environment safe in what has become the future of coworking. With the COVID-19 pandemic still among us, returning to the office is something that requires embracing more than just the basic etiquette rules. While keeping the noise level down and cleaning up after yourself when using a common area are some things that fit into common sense behavior in the office space, there are some unwritten rules that members need to incorporate into their office behavior.
Sanitize Your Workspace
Your desk is the place you will spend the most amount of time while at the office. For this reason, you want to make sure that it’s always clean, and by this, I don’t mean just organized. Making sure your workspace is disinfected regularly is something you should consider including in your daily work schedule. A good idea is to sanitize the area either right before you leave work or first thing in the morning to ensure that you always start the day fresh and clean. In cases such as office hoteling, it’s best to clean your desk in the morning, or whenever you arrive, to ensure it is sanitized.
Clean Up After Yourself
While this goes without saying in a coworking space, it’s now important to pay even more attention to the shared areas. Make sure to properly dispose of garbage, as well as used paper towels in bathrooms and kitchens, sterilize the tables where you eat, and try to always have your hands washed or sanitized before and after touching things such as doorknobs and light switches. Also, don’t leave open drinks or food in the fridge in a shared kitchen, and don’t leave used dishes and silverware in the sink or countertops, but rather wash them immediately before putting them away.
Keep Your Personal Bubble
While you may have been used to running into a meeting at the last minute or even getting up with everybody else to walk together, it may be a better idea to try to make your way to the meeting room ahead of the traffic. This allows you to avoid having to squeeze by other people, thus allowing you to keep the social distance. Also, to show respect towards your coworkers, keeping a distance is a good idea, just like you would at a store or while waiting in a line.
No Meetings in the Desk Area
While also a good idea to avoid disturbing those who have desks around you, if you have something to discuss with coworkers, try to move either to a meeting room or space where there aren’t a lot of other people around. While you will more than likely have to wear masks within the coworking space, having a bunch of people crowding around a small desk can be risky and hard to manage while also keeping the social distancing standards in place.
Stay Home if Unwell
Another commonsense rule that should go without saying is to stay home if you feel unwell. Regardless of whether you have COVID or not, avoiding the risk of giving whatever you have to your coworkers should be eliminated by you choosing to work from home. Also, if you happen to have some symptoms while at work, go home immediately. Another important thing to keep in mind is to let your employer know that you are feeling unwell so that they may monitor any interactions between you and your coworkers.
Keep Track of Your Supplies
To avoid having to share more things than those you need to, such as doorknobs, light switches and common are tabletops, make sure to keep track of your supplies. Those include anything from pens, notebooks, the headset, and even your chair. This way you make sure that your things will only be used by you, but also that you don’t have to borrow anything from your coworkers.
Coworking spaces are a great way to successfully get your work done while also interacting with new people. It allows for having a community among employees from different companies that all work towards their individual goals. However, with working in a coworking space comes great responsibility, especially in this COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has to contribute to keeping the space clean, safe and healthy for everyone that works there. For the best coworking software to help in this new work scene, check out the Yardi Kube platform.