While flexibility and creativity are generally encouraged, there are some etiquette rules for shared workspaces that should never be broken. Here are 12 ways to make sure you’re a considerate coworker:
Keep it down
The open plan nature of some shared workspaces can make them susceptible to high noise levels. Make sure you’re considerate when you’re on the phone, listening to your favorite music or chatting with a coworker.
Many workspaces may have noise policies for different areas. Some may have telephone booths you can use to make a call. Others have quiet zones, nap pods or meditation zones for those individuals that crave peace and quiet. Some have breakout areas where collaboration is encouraged. Respect the space you’re in.
Clean it up
No one wants to sit down to a sticky desk. When you’re using a shared space, make sure you tidy up after yourself. The same rule applies to other shared areas such as meeting rooms and the kitchen.
Also, sometimes you may not be able to avoid eating “al desko” – but try to avoid this where possible. It just adds to the mess.
Many workspaces have a “leave no trace” policy. In other words, you should leave a space as if nobody used it.
I’m not just talking about physical mess here either. Be mindful that if you open that smelly egg sandwich or overdo your aftershave or perfume, then you could quickly find yourself eating lunch alone thanks to an overpowering odor.
If the printer runs out of paper or the dishwasher isn’t working properly, go and tell someone. Or fix it yourself, if possible. The quicker such issues are reported, the faster they’ll be resolved. The whole community will benefit as a result.
Don’t hog it
Don’t block book a resource, such as a meeting room, on the off chance you may need it. And don’t ignore your coworkers if your meeting overruns and they’re left loitering awkwardly in the hallway waiting for you to finish up.
Likewise, don’t overuse other services or amenities. Don’t use all the paper in the copy machine or start squirreling away the free coffee or tea bags.
Connect and collaborate
Shared workspaces are networking goldmines. When you enter a space, introduce yourself to people, tell them what you do and start a conversation.
You don’t need to tell them your life story, but you never know what opportunities you could be missing out on if you just sit down, keep your head down and slap on your headphones.
Respect the privacy of others
To counter my last point, if someone is furiously tapping away at a keyboard with their headphones on, leave them be. Sometimes we all need to concentrate.
Use your allowed space
Some shared workspaces may incorporate private offices or desks for members. Don’t encroach on these spaces unless you’ve specifically booked and paid for them. Just because they’re empty does not give you a license to use them.
If a workspace doesn’t have all the amenities you need, most have a community manager who may be receptive to your needs. Alternatively, ask around and see if another coworker has what you’re looking for.
Don’t just sit there complaining that you don’t have what you need to get the job done. It’s impossible to meet every single person’s needs. Bring your own supplies. Offer to share them with your coworkers. Be proactive.
Give it back
If you do borrow something, give it back as soon as possible. You don’t want to leave a coworker in the lurch just because you forgot your laptop charger.
This is hopefully a no-brainer but don’t “borrow” something without asking either.
Watch your tongue
If you need to handle a sensitive issue or conduct an aspect of your business behind closed doors, choose your place carefully. No one wants to witness a boss dressing down their staff or shouting at a supplier on the phone.
The way you conduct yourself not only affects you and your business’s reputation but also the environment of the entire space.
So, be friendly and professional in your shared workspace. It’s not a place to air grievances or your personal affairs.
Shared workspaces are open to all. They are places free of any form of discrimination. It should hopefully go without saying but avoid sensitive jokes, demeaning remarks and any other actions that may make others feel uncomfortable in the space.
Be observant of your environment and your coworkers. Don’t be this guy.
Spread the word
If you’ve found the perfect space for your business, spread the word. Other businesses will appreciate the tip-off. So will the workspace.
This will also help you fill the space with people you like to work with. It’s a win-win scenario.
A final word on etiquette rules for shared workspaces
Hopefully, these etiquette rules for shared workspaces are common sense to most people. And this is the best rule of all: use your common sense.
To quote the writer, historian and philosopher Will Durant: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
So, if you’re sharing any space with anyone, then conduct yourself in a friendly and professional manner.
As a result, everyone will benefit from working in a friendly and professional space.