This article was originally published on Coworker.com
For many, understanding proper etiquette and having good manners in their coworking space isn’t something that comes naturally. Coworking etiquette isn’t something most of us have been taught. Moreover, the fairly transient nature of coworking spaces can make us less concerned with how we’re making others feel.
Yet, there are countless benefits to being courteous in your coworking space. For one, respecting your coworkers will lead to them respecting you. This respect will make it a lot easier to befriend them or be offered referrals in the future.
In addition, coworking spaces are a much more pleasant place to work when everyone adheres to certain community guidelines. The golden rule of coworking is to be considerate. Think about how your actions will make others feel.
In general, if you don’t know about the customs or rules of your coworking space, just ask. Most staff and regulars will be happy to help. With that being said, here are a few etiquette guidelines that are virtually universal amongst coworking spaces.
#1 Manage Your Noise Level
Inherently, coworking spaces aren’t going to be as quiet as a private office. Yet, there’s a big difference between the background noise of footsteps and papers shuffling, versus someone listening to loud music or talking on the phone.
Headphones are ubiquitous in coworking spaces for a reason — they allow you to focus more easily, while simultaneously allowing others to do the same. Listening to white noiseon your computer or phone is a great way to block out distractions from your environment.
Of course, ideally, there wouldn’t be environmental distractions in the first place. So, be the change you wish to see in your coworking space. Keep your noise level down. If you’re talking to someone nearby, chat quietly or move your discussion to the cafeteria or lounge.
When you need to take a call, make your way to an area your coworking space has designated for calls. Often, coworking members are encouraged to take their calls in a meeting room or designated Skype room. If you’re not sure, just ask. A staff member or regular at the coworking space will be happy to direct you.
#2 Use Meeting Rooms Respectfully
Meeting rooms are one of the most useful aspects of your coworking membership. Do your best to vacate the room after your scheduled time. You never know when someone else is waiting to get on a call with an important potential client.
Also, be sure to cancel your meeting room booking if your client can’t make a meeting or something else unexpected comes up. It’s always a pity when the meeting room is left empty when someone else could’ve gotten good use out of it.
On that note, be considerate not to overbook time in the meeting room. It’s not fair to other members for someone to book two peak business hours just because “maybe” they’ll need it.
#3 Keep the Kitchen Clean
The kitchen is the heart — errrr… stomach of every coworking space. It’s a very popular room. Yet, it may also be the place the most coworking etiquette violations are made. Fortunately, good manners can be easily trained in the kitchen. Here are some simple guidelines.
- Wash your dirty dishes after eating. Also clean the table or seat you ate it.
- Keep the fridge organized.
- Enjoy the free beverages or snacks, but don’t accidentally eat someone else’s lunch.
- Try to avoid cooking foods with strong odors.
- Chew quietly with your mouth closed.
- After your meal, pop a piece of gum or mint into your mouth. Nobody likes being breathed on by garlic, durian, or fish sauce mouth.
#4 Be Social At the Right Times
Start a conversation, or entertain someone that starts a conversation with you. While you shouldn’t try to chat with someone deeply focused on their work, small talk can be great in the cafeteria or lounge.
Being social and meeting other new interesting people is one of the biggest benefits of joining a coworking space — especially if you’re living abroad. Genuine friendly conversations can be a great way to make new friends, expand your network, and possibly even have referrals sent your way.
Just be sure to pitch fun and interesting conversations, rather than pitching your business and why the other person needs to buy from you. Nobody likes pushy sales pitches during their lunch break.
#5 Share the Shared Equipment
It’s called shared and not personal use equipment for a reason. Everyone is meant to benefit from shared amenities such as photocopiers, printers, and pools.
Consider printing those 1,000 flyers in an off-peak hour, or at least ask others if they need to use the printer first. Be courteous when you use shared equipment or amenities. You’ll find others are likely to do the same for you.
#6 Rapid Fire Rules
-Don’t change the heat or air conditioning settings without permission. Wear a jacket, or take your jacket off instead.
-Avoid profanities and inappropriate language.
-Don’t slam doors.
-Don’t intrude on the space of others. If you’re at a shared table, don’t spread your mess into others’ workspaces.
-Don’t rest your feet on the table.
-Clean your workspace before you leave.
-Make introductions if you feel other space members would benefit from connecting.
-Return any supplies you borrow from other coworkers or the coworking space itself.
-Manage your smell. Don’t go too crazy on the cologne or perfume. Also, if at all possible, take a shower after your mid-day exercise routine.
Being a courteous coworker at your coworking space isn’t difficult. It simply requires some awareness and a little conscious effort. That small effort, however, can pay large dividends in making your space more enjoyable for everyone to use. Plus, who knows?
Maybe your awesome coworking etiquette will help you make a key business connection or incentivize someone to send an awesome client your way. Sometimes small things like manners can make all the difference.