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Deskmag’s 2019 Global Coworking Survey examined the coworking space market and its future expectations. By the end of 2019, it was reported that almost 2.2 million people will work in more than 22,000 global coworking spaces. The average number of members at each location? 90 individuals. As of 2020, 50% of large companies now have some form of shared office space.

As more people swap traditional office spaces for the convenience of coworking, it’s critical that they still practice proper workplace etiquette. Coworking spaces are designed to increase productivity and creativity, but it’s difficult to stay focused and get your work done when distracted by others not respecting their shared environment. Perhaps even you are guilty of making these coworking space etiquette mishaps in the past.

Make the most of your coworking space experience by following these simple etiquette dos and don’ts.

DON’T: Be unnecessarily noisy.

Most individuals that work out of a coworking space are there to focus and complete the task at hand. It’s difficult to stay productive if you are surrounded by distracting, loud individuals.

Be mindful of volume in a shared space, including the following aspects of work that may be noisy.

  • Don’t take personal calls in common areas. If you do need to take a call, move it to a private meeting room, go outside, or use a coworking space’s phone booth (some spaces do offer this feature!)
  • Use headphones, not speakers, when listening to music or podcasts and when watching videos.
  • If you need to brainstorm ideas or speak with a colleague, do so in a private meeting room or office. Do not try to hold a lengthy, loud conversation at a table shared by other individuals you don’t know.
  • Chew quietly. This applies to chewing gum or snacking in your space.
  • Turn your phone on silent or vibrant mode. Turn off the sounds feature when texting (if you have it on).

DO: Clean and sanitize your spot.

Do you have an office suite that you work out of or sit at a shared table in “your” spot? Much like you would treat your desk in a traditional office, keep your spot tidy in a coworking space. This includes, but isn’t limited to, following these sanitary tips.

  • Wipe up any spills, leftover lunch residue, and even rings left behind from cups that do not have coasters with a disinfecting wipe. Use wipes to clean off shared equipment, like keyboards, before use. As flu season continues and concerns rise about the Coronavirus, it’s a good idea to keep a few disinfectant wipes handy for yourself — or a neighbor in need of extra cleanliness support.
  • Clean, or put in a dishwasher, any communal kitchen items you may use that belong to the coworking space’s break room, such as silverware or coffee mugs.
  • Throw away trash and utilize recycling bins.
  • Take home any excess snacks/beverages or throw these items out upon leaving.

Do a quick sweep of your space before leaving to ensure it looks the same (if not slightly neater) as it did when you arrived.

DON’T: Act like the equipment and amenities are only for you.

A coworking space may be a working home away from home, but it is not your house. Do not use the printer to print off hundreds of documents or spend the better part of the day using the copy machine. Make sure everyone else has a chance to use these supplies.

DO: Speak up if you notice you’re running out of supplies.

Is the printer low on ink? Reach out to the proper point of contact at the coworking space to let them know or refill it with a new cartridge from a designated supply cabinet. Take initiative if you notice you’re running out of certain necessary items. Do not try to rummage through the desks of others for extra pens or bring in your own pods for a Keurig, leaving everyone to feel as though they need to do the same.

DON’T: Eat at your desk.

Keep eating lunches or breakfast separate in a break room. Regardless of how delicious (or not) the food you’re eating smells, the smell is still a big distraction in any coworking space. It may also be distracting to hear the sound of people eating and to see crumbs on desks after they’re done.

DO: Mindfully engage with others.

Coworking spaces are, essentially, communities. Here you will meet other like-minded individuals from all walks of life and industries working hard together. You don’t have to feel as though you never need to speak to these people! Introduce yourself in an elevator or in the break room. Tell them a little bit more about yourself and what you do and ask them questions about what they do. Be mindful of how you engage with others. Avoid treating a new person as a sales pitch or distracting them while they’re working.

As time progresses, you may discover some people work the same ‘shift’ hours at the coworking space as you. Build up a rapport and engage with these professionals. Grab lunch, brainstorm new ideas, and attend networking events together. You might make new friends thanks to the coworking space that brought you together!

About the Author(s)

 Deborah  Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the GM & VP, Small Business Services at Deluxe Corporation. She is an advocate for protecting personal and professional assets for business owners and entrepreneurs.

General Manager and Vice President, Small Business Services at Deluxe Corporation
Dos and Don’ts for Working Out of a Coworking Space