Coworking space etiquette is important because coworking spaces are shared workspaces. Although each business or entrepreneur in a coworking space works independently of one another, the shared work environment means that certain rules of conduct need to be established so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
Practicing proper working space etiquette often leads to greater productivity and less conflict for all members of a coworking space.
Coworking & Shared Office Space Etiquette Everyone Should Follow
Some coworking spaces provide a written document that outlines expected etiquette when in a shared office. Members may also create unspoken etiquette standards that everyone is expected to follow. Regardless, mutual respect for the well-being of everyone in a coworking space generally sets the standard for shared office etiquette.
Respect Personal & Shared Workspace
Respecting the property of others in a coworking space is essential for keeping order. Because some coworking desks and shared offices are used by different people and companies on a rotating basis, it’s a good idea to review the occupancy agreement provided by your coworking space manager.
Keep your reserved desk tidy
If your company reserves desks in a coworking space, keep these areas tidy. Clean up trash before you leave for the day or before the desk is turned over to another member.
Don’t encroach on others’ desks
Just like in a traditional office space, you should avoid encroaching on the desks of others. In general, it’s a good idea to keep a few feet between any desks your company uses and the desks of others in your coworking space.
Clean up after yourself in common areas
Common areas in a coworking space are shared by all occupants, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep these areas clean. If you or your employees eat in common areas, make sure to throw away food trash and clean up any spills or crumbs.
Minimize Noise & Distractions
Since a coworking space or shared office is a place of business, everyone in the space should do their best to minimize noise and distractions. Excessive noise and distractions can negatively impact productivity and may cause friction among other occupants in a shared workspace.
Speak quietly & take calls in private
If you have to have a prolonged conversation with someone or take a phone call in a shared office, try to find a private place to do so. Most coworking spaces provide common areas or private phone areas that are kept separate from work areas.
Wear headphones for music/video
Whether you listen to music for pleasure while working or watch videos for work purposes, consider wearing headphones instead of allowing the audio to play over laptop, computer or smartphone speakers.
Set phone to silent mode
Many professionals rely on their phones to get work done in a coworking space or shared office, but ringing phones and phone notifications can be distracting. When possible, put your devices on silent to avoid bothering others.
Be Considerate of Workspace Hours
Most coworking spaces have set hours of operation as well as set times reserved for different tenants in different work areas. When your time has expired, make sure to exit your shared workspace to make room for others.
Follow posted space hours/guidelines
Pay attention to any specific posted guidelines for your workspace. Additionally, abide by the schedule of your workspace to avoid encroaching on the hours reserved for others.
Don’t make excessive noise early/late
While you should always avoid excessive noise in a shared office or coworking space, you’re encouraged to take extra precautions to stay quiet early in the morning and late in the afternoon into the early evening. Many people have a harder time focusing during early mornings or late in the day.
Contribute to Community Feel
It’s also a good idea to get involved in any community events held by your coworking space or shared office. Trying to get and stay involved supports a community feel and plays a role in building productive relationships within a shared office environment.
Greet other members
When around other occupants of a coworking space, take a moment to greet them. A quick smile, wave or “hello” can go a long way in creating a relaxed work environment for everyone.
Introduce yourself to newcomers
If you come across someone you haven’t met, take a moment to introduce yourself. This is a way to support a communal atmosphere and may even lead to productive business relationships.
Attend community events when possible
You can also practice coworking space etiquette by attending community events hosted by the management of your coworking space or organized by other tenants. If possible, get involved yourself to help out and make the event better for everyone.
Follow Shared Resource Scheduling
If your coworking space provides shared resources like office supplies or audio and video equipment, follow any schedule provided by the management of your shared office. Most shared offices will place limits on the use of shared resources, and some may provide a sign-up sheet through which you can schedule the use of shared resources.
Reserve conference rooms in advance
Many shared office spaces provide access to conference rooms, but these generally need to be reserved ahead of time so that all tenants have the chance to use them. Instead of trying to rush in at the last second to book a conference room, try to plan ahead and reserve early. This prevents conflicts between members who all want to use these shared resources.
Respect other’s reservation times
In keeping with the above, it’s important to respect everyone’s reservation times for conference rooms and other shared spaces. If another member has a room or space booked, don’t try to hurry that party out. Instead, allow everyone to utilize these spaces for the allotted time provided per the coworking space’s schedule.
Cancel bookings if plans change
If you have a conference room or other shared space reserved but your plans change and you no longer need it, let management know as soon as possible to cancel the reservation. This is the courteous thing to do as it opens up the slot for others to reserve.
Welcome Space Guests
When using a coworking space, you may find that you need to have guests visit your company. Most shared office spaces allow guests to visit, but most also have rules and regulations about visitors. Check with your coworking space’s management to learn about specific visitor policies.
Notify staff of any guests visiting
Before a guest arrives for a visit to your shared office space, it’s a good idea to let the front desk staff know who to expect. This is a part of shared office etiquette, and it can also help get guests checked in faster.
Have guests sign in/out
When a guest arrives, they will usually need to sign in on a sheet or check in at a computer at the entrance to your coworking space. When leaving, guests will need to sign out as well.
Ensure guests follow space etiquette
Just as you and your employees are expected to follow etiquette in a coworking space, your guests should also follow the same etiquette rules. If a guest is unfamiliar with these rules, take a moment to explain them.
Provide Member Feedback
Etiquette in a shared workspace extends beyond just the courtesy you show toward other business owners and entrepreneurs sharing the space. You also want to follow proper etiquette when dealing directly with the management of your shared office space. Providing member feedback is one way to do this as member feedback shows you’re engaged and want to see the coworking space thrive.
Notify staff about any issues needing attention
If you notice any issues like safety concerns or rule violations, let someone from management know. Shared workspaces are designed to be safe, accessible places for occupants, and management will appreciate your proactive stance on supporting these goals.
Offer suggestions to improve experience
When possible, share feedback with suggestions to improve the experience of working in a coworking space. Your feedback and suggestions can help management make decisions that benefit you, your business and the interests of all members.
Complete member surveys if applicable
If the management of your coworking space provides you with a member survey, fill it out and provide details about your experiences. Member surveys are a chance for you to share your voice with management to steer the coworking space in a direction that is helpful to members.
Stay Home if You’re Sick ir Feel Unwell
If you aren’t feeling well or have been diagnosed with a communicable illness, stay home instead of trying to utilize a shared office. Just like in a traditional office, germs can spread through a coworking space quickly, even if you take precautions.
Avoid Selling the People Working With You
While it can be tempting to try to sell products or services to others in your coworking space, this kind of behavior is generally frowned upon. Remember that everyone in a shared office is there to work and support their own professional ambitions.
Don’t Abuse Shared Services & Amenities
If you are provided with shared services and amenities like Internet access, don’t abuse these. For example, it would be unprofessional to use a coworking space’s Internet connection to download a lot of movies onto your personal laptop.
Avoid Strong Smells Such as Colognes and Perfumes
While good hygiene is important in any professional work environment, be careful about strong smells from things like cologne or perfume. Some people experience fragrance allergies, and your cologne or perfume may become a distraction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about proper etiquette when using a coworking space or shared office:
How do you behave in a coworking space?
You should behave professionally at all times in a coworking space. This means respecting others, keeping your work area clean and quiet and avoiding disruptions to the workspaces of others.
What do you wear to a coworking space?
When deciding what to wear to a coworking space, check the space’s dress code first. You will usually want to wear dress-casual clothing and avoid things like t-shirts and shorts.
How do you behave in an open office environment?
Proper and professional behavior in an open-office environment generally means keeping distractions to a minimum and respecting the rights and space of others.
Can you talk on the phone in a coworking space?
You can talk on a phone in a coworking space, but doing so may be a distraction. Instead of taking a call when surrounded by others in a shared office, try to find a quiet place away from everyone else to talk.
What is office etiquette?
Office etiquette is a set of formal and informal rules that govern behavior in an office environment. Typically, office etiquette involves showing respect to everyone in the office and acting in a courteous manner when interacting with others.