Guest post by Instant Offices
We’ve all experienced an annoying coworker; the person in the office who clears their throat endlessly, pounds their keyboard too loudly or is oblivious to how pungent their fish lunch is. And as for the guy who has his iPhone turned up too loud, well… simmering resentment towards these individuals is an inevitable result of spending the day in close proximity to strangers. But while it is essential to learn to navigate their behaviour in a healthy way, it’s even more important to avoid actually becoming one of them.
To help cultivate a positive coworking environment where space, amenities and services are shared, mutually respected and even made more enjoyable by interaction with complete strangers, we interviewed two people who’ve seen it all.
Greg Miley from Instant Offices & Alessa McNally from The Office Group share a few insights on workplace etiquette in a coworking space.
According to Greg, these are the top dos and don’ts:
- Shut yourself away or avoid the rest of the members
- Abuse communal spaces
- Make unnecessarily loud noise
- Book out meeting rooms for long recurring meetings
- Make an effort to network and interact with others
- Accept advice and constructive criticism from others
- Use the support systems and facilities on offer
- Make sure you leave communal areas how you found them
- Be a positive presence and contribute to the community
The Importance of Coworking Etiquette
“Be a nice human”, says Alessa. And it actually is that simple. In a coworking space people are expected to be responsible for themselves. The most important thing is to be mindful of others, whether colleagues, complete strangers or even competitors.
“You’re sharing a space with lots of other lovely people” says Alessa, “so leaving your area the way you found it, taking sensitive calls in private and maybe not microwaving a fish in a shared kitchen all go a really long way! The golden rule applies to everything really: treat your fellow coworkers as you would like to be treated and leave the space as you would like to find it”.
Shared Office Etiquette
Etiquette in a coworking space is no different to what’s expected in any office environment or collaborative hub: keep noise levels down, follow the office kitchen rules, avoid foul or inappropriate language and be an all-round decent person. But as with any situation when you are thrown in with strangers, behaviour can be magnified in a coworking centre. Careless or disruptive individuals can work against the carefully crafted ambience of a shared environment, which is why it’s so important for the rules and values of a coworking space to be properly communicated.
Establishing Ground Rules
When working in an open plan office, etiquette is an essential consideration and expectations of conduct need to be clearly communicated to everyone. Greg’s advice for coworking spaces is to establish a set of rules that’s clear and concise. “Too many rules will lead to people forgetting them and ultimately not abiding by them. Set up a few major principles and stand by them firmly.”
“The easiest way to do this is from the beginning in a new space” says Alessa. “Bring it up when showing potential new members around. Have some rules on display but keep it light hearted. Include some encouraging guidelines to help people succeed, as opposed to abrupt statements like ‘don’t eat here’ or ‘don’t save seats”.
Privacy in a Shared Space
Another really important factor to consider is the social aspect of the shared environment. Greg says that one of the biggest challenges that operators face, from a social aspect, is ensuring that they’re creating a community feel while at the same time offering privacy as and when needed. “Coworking is notoriously sold on the premise that there are fantastic networking opportunities and the chance to work in a pleasant and social environment, which is especially attractive for start-up individuals or small companies with only a few employees” says Greg. “However, every company at some point ultimately wants to be able to work and discuss elements of the business with a degree of privacy.”
This is especially important if individuals find themselves in the same space as a competitor. If this is the case, Alessa says honesty is the best policy. “Any good co-working space will have a community manager who will know everyone. Ask them if there are any competitors in the room and ask for an introduction. Rather both parties know where they stand than secretly give each other evil eyes from across the room. Can’t we all just get along?”