A coworking space is a business model designed to provide business services to small entrepreneurs, larger companies who have employees working remotely, freelancers, and individuals working in group projects. Coworking spaces are the next big thing in remote working and are available by the hour, day, or month for longer-term subcontracts.
These shared workspaces offer a casual workspace area that can be fun, stimulating, and enhance creativity and productivity in your work. There’s no place better to put your thinking caps on for a brainstorming session with your partners than an environment curated for just that purpose.
Resources offered in a coworking space will include Wi-Fi, printers and scanners, a conference room or private meeting rooms, kitchen, power backup, security, heating and A/C, and cafeteria. Depending on the investors, some even offer complimentary refreshments and game rooms where the clients can blow off some steam.
But for these spaces to function optimally, as with any office set-ups, you need rules. Coworking spaces are governed by contractual agreements that anyone leasing the space should sign and adhere to for the comfort of everyone in the environment. Read on to find out why people go to coworking spaces and some of the dos and don’ts to follow while there.
Why Choose to Work in a Shared Workspace?
Why choose to leave the comfort of your home to commute to a public shared work area? Well, here are a few reasons why.
It is a chance to step out of your bubble and expose yourself to new perspectives from like-minded individuals.
It leads to an increase in productivity. Taking a break from house chores, the attention required from your children, and the constant distractions associated with a familiar environment helps you to keep focused and stay on top of your game.
A new workspace can be just what you need to get that burst of creativity in your work and to get you a step ahead of your competitors.
Collaborations with like-minded individuals can give way to a wide range of ideas for your business and personal projects.
A comfortable and adequately fitted workspace is a space curated for minimal distractions and utmost work comfort, which are critical elements for commitment. You also feel at ease asking investors for meet-ups in such professional spaces.
What to Look for in a Coworking Environment
With so many new establishments in coworking spaces, it's easy to get distracted by the posh and plush offered by some. You can easily miss out on the key elements needed to consider while choosing an adequate coworking space. Let's look at some key areas to check while selecting a shared workspace.
Location, location, location. This is the first and most crucial factor to consider, as with any business. Choose a location with a short commute. You don't want to lose hours commuting daily. Also, keep in mind a location that is central to your employees and yourself if they need to meet and collaborate on a project.
Consider the transport options to your designated location. Is it safe to leave work at night? Are there available parking spots for every team member should they opt to drive? These questions are pertinent to consider before committing a chunk of your operating cost to a coworking space. Include the employees in the decision-making as well.
Consider your Budget
If you are starting a business, a traditional workspace can be a temporary office address before you start making enough money to put down on a space. This will be huge savings for established businesses that do not require a permanent physical address since you only pay for the office when you need it.
However, a prolonged stay at a coworking space can be costly for a business trying to save up enough money to establish a space of its own. The monthly rent could be geared towards making a purchase here and there as you work towards your dream office- so make sure the numbers add up. There is no shame in starting small.
Since you’re spending money to be in this space, ensure that the space caters to all of your needs and provides a level of comfort that reflects the check you draw at the end of your stay. You can read up on the best products for a shared office space. But here is a quick summary of some of the most essential features to consider:
Consider an office that offers ergonomic chairs and standing desks that sustain a proper comfort level, ensure good posture and ensure a healthy balance between sitting and standing. Some even take it a notch higher by providing furniture that allows you to get your workout done in the office.
Regular maintenance- You don't want to work in an environment where the printer breaks down and stays down. Or an environment where you have to tend to a flickering bulb or plumbing issues yourself.
Internet connection. A stable wi-fi connection is a staple to ensure work goes on seamlessly.
Lockable cabinets to keep documents safe.
Printers, scanners, and copiers.
A/C and a heater to regulate the temperature conditions.
Snack bar with healthy snack options to keep the hunger pangs at bay.
The coworking space should be accessible to you during the hours you need to work, around the clock. This is a non-negotiable aspect, considering that most ventures today cut across different time zones, which could call for odd working hours.
Consider the Type of Space You Need
Most coworking spaces provide three types of arrangements in their establishment.
The hot desk - This is a first-come, first-served kind of environment. This is a popular option for people without long-term commitments to the space as anyone can access it without having any sort of membership. Freelancers are best suited for this kind of arrangement.
Fixed desks - These establishments prefer bookings in advance. The desks are booked by an hourly/ day or monthly rate. Once reserved, you can show up (or not) and not worry about missing space for the reserved period.
Cabin Space - These spaces rent out sections of the shared office to larger teams. It is most suitable for groups that require privacy to work on projects or for brainstorming sessions.
Some spaces have office options with lockable doors, others have partitions, but most have open floor plans. Depending on the level of privacy needed, pick one that best plays into your vision. Again, ensure to check whether they offer boardroom or conference room services, should this ever be a concern for your business. Lockable cabinets should not be optional.
Customer care is becoming more and more of a big deal by the day. The level of training and experience your staff has in dealing with different types of the clientele can make or break your investment. The dynamics of leasing your space to different workers need an on-site management team that can anticipate and diffuse any potential blow up with the clients, staff, building management, and sometimes obscene expectations and requests from the ‘paying clients.’
The Do's of a Coworking Space
Having chosen a workspace that suits your needs, expectations, and budget, you’re ready for a rundown of the etiquette to follow during your stay at the establishment. The most important thing to remember is that this is as much a public space as it is private; therefore, decorum should be observed. Be mindful that your actions impact the people around you, so accord them the same courtesy you expect of them. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Be Mindful of Others
As much as you want to burst out loud to a meme your buddy sent you or pick a phone call from chatty Aunt Cathy- Be mindful of others. You might prefer taking a garlic and ginger blend for your coffee break. The question is, is everyone okay with the pungent aroma of your drink? The same goes for wanting the comfort of freeing your feet from the shackles of closed shoes and being aware that your socks may be smelly from walking around in the heat.
In being mindful, make sure that you:
Respect the space assigned to you and make sure your activities don’t stretch to the next person’s. Be conscious of the sounds you make, the smell coming from your desk, uncomfortably long stares in other people’s directions, etc.
Don’t move things around as the way it is organized is probably meant to optimize the resources for each individual client.
Use the resources reasonably. You cannot set to print 1000 copies from an office printer simply because it is available. You might hold up the queue for everyone else requiring the services later and deplete the toner in the process.
Before altering the thermostat, ensure everyone feels as hot or cold as you. It is not easy to reach a consensus on such things, but you can take turns compromising.
Clean Up and Sanitize
Pandemic or not, it has always been essential to maintaining good hygiene and sanitize shared spaces. The management should first ensure to install furniture made with easy to clean material. While it may not be entirely feasible, office leather chairs clean better than regular fabric chairs, so that should be a consideration. You can check out this article on how to keep your office chair in pristine condition. Most desktop surfaces are easy to wipe off, so that shouldn’t be so much of a problem.
Other things to consider in keeping a clean shared workspace include:
Throw away any trash you have accumulated during the day before you leave.
Wipe any spillages, cup\ plate rings from your desk. Acquire a coaster to avoid the hassle.
Do not leave snacks on your desk.
At the end of the day, check your workspace before you leave to ensure it is neat as you found it.
Respect other People’s Boundaries
Read people’s social cues to ensure that you are not interfering with personal spaces. If someone does not engage you in small talk, best avoid it. Do not impose snacks on people. Offer them, but take a yes or no on the offer with equal grace. Also, let personal conversations be personal. Do your best to avoid listening to people’s calls and talks.
Adhere to the Rules Set by Management
Obey the set rules given by the coworking space to avoid collision with co-leasers and the management. You don't want to create a toxic environment for yourself by getting constant reminders on lack of adherence to etiquette at the workspace or creating a bad name for yourself.
Remember that the coworking facility is also running a business that charges by the hour. Your lack of punctuality or requests for overtime could cost them money and prospective clients. It is also an inconvenience to the user slotted to use your space once you’re done. Inform the management of unforeseen circumstances that may cause you to run late.
Network and Socialize
Engage in healthy networking and socialization. You all have a common agenda, which is grounds for an introductory conversation. Seek second and third opinions on your projects- use those people as a resource and be a resource to them as well. You will find all manner of skills in a shared workspace- lawyers, journalists, tutors, bloggers, social media analysts, finance guys, etc. If you play your cards right, you could be looking at the best pool of professional contacts you will come across in your career.
The Don'ts of a Coworking Space
We have also compiled a list of things typically frowned upon in a shared workspace. They include:
Avoid sales pitches in a shared workspace. Most people in a coworking space are there to focus and complete the tasks at hand. It’s not conducive to listening to your sales pitch as they work. Save that for break time.
Don't have loud conversations from the office space. When you need to share ideas or brainstorm with a partner, use a private room or the break room.
Don't make personal calls in a shared workspace. Take a break and move to another area or outside to avoid creating a distraction.
Keep your phone on silent.
Do not eat in your space.
Don't chew gum, as it can be quite destructive to the people around you.
Don't hog office resources.
There’s no denying that shared workspaces are taking over traditional office setups. They are economical for most people working remotely and for freelance workers. coworking spaces also accord start-ups the resources to get their business running with the same amenities found in more established companies.
And, with proper networking, you can leave the shared space with the kind of professional network that will position your business for its best shot at success. Follow our dos and don'ts when you settle on the coworking space that fits your situation, and you are guaranteed to have an easy and enjoyable time at your new office.