How to Survive a Coworking Space

Work-Life Balance Is The Least of Your Worries

After working at a coworking center for over three years now, it’s pretty clear that coworking is working. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, this wave is here and there’s no stopping it.

Instead of fighting it, grab your oversized noise-cancelling headphones, find an extra phone charger, and make sure you know the wifi password.

Here’s how to survive any coworking space.

Bring food to share.

Who doesn’t like free food? Whether you’re fond of donuts, cookies, or any other baked good, there is no quicker way to win over the crowd. Just make sure you bring gluten-free/dairy-free/non-GMO/vegan/paleo options for some of the “pickier” members.

Eat your own lunch.

We’ve all felt that sudden pang of anger that comes once you realize your leftovers from last night’s date are missing. You spent one month’s paycheck on that new farm-to-table restaurant and by God, you’re going to enjoy every last bite! There might not be an HR department to keep everyone accountable, but there sure as hell is a little thing called citizen’s arrest.

Don’t drink too much.

Imagine, if you will, a place where every day is Casual Friday. While you’re at it, now picture a glorious mini fridge filled with endless amounts of local craft beer. Just because it exists doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to go ham at 11 AM. No worries, that overwhelming sense of shame brought on by the rest of the community should wear off just in time for that hangover to kick in.

Make the damn coffee.

You might think it’s beneath you, but taking your turn to make the coffee can prove you’re a team player. Sure, it might be one of those fancy contraptions from Italy, but it has to come with an instruction manual, right? Either way, coffee is the lifeblood of any coworking center and, by sacrificing a few minutes, you can become the defibrillator.

Don’t be afraid to make friends.

You know how people can smell fear in prison? Working in a coworking center is kind of like that, except replace fear with impostor syndrome and replace prisoners with twenty-somethings who are much smarter than you. Come to think of it, it’s more like high school. And you’re the new kid. Make your life a little easier and try saying “Hi!” once in a while.

Learn how to drown out noise.

Remember those noise-cancelling headphones from earlier? You’re going to need them, especially if you work out in the open. If these are a little out of your price range, go full on MacGyver and create your own mini cubicle. It may not block out the noise, but it will send a message to any Chatty Cathies or Rowdy Randies lurking nearby.

Put your shit in the dishwasher.

What, do you still live with your parents? Are you expecting the interns to clean up after you? We’re all adults now, which means, you can spend a few extra seconds taking care of your own dishes. The dishwasher is full you say? Looks like it’s time to put that MBA to work and empty that sucker.

Barter with other members.

Much like prison (why is this guy so obsessed with prison?), you’ll have to use what you have to get what you don’t. Need some legal help? Design a logo for the new lawyer and you can say goodbye to that pesky cease and desist letter. Looking to get in shape? Set up a new website for the in-house trainer in return for some one-on-one training. Just make sure you follow through — there’s nothing worse than ruing your street cred thanks to an open tab filled with IOUs and broken promises.

Start a writer’s group.

Looking for a little help with that first book you’ve always wanted to start? You and me both. Why not round up all of the other aspiring writers and hold each other accountable? Not only will you make some new friends, you’ll also get some real feedback about why your first draft isn’t working. Spoiler alert: vampires and werewolves were so 2012.

Give a lunch and learn.

Even after almost a decade, most of my friend still have no idea what the hell I do to make money. Avoid this by teaching other members about you and what you actually do. You’ll get a little public speaking practice and they’ll get to learn something new. The only thing better than free advice is a free lunch.


William Frazier is a designer, writer, founder, and productive fumbler who blogs about making ideas happen at The Imperfectionist. He’s also on Twitter.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +368,366 people.

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