Whether you’re a freelancer, remote worker, or startup founder, chances are you’ve considered co-working at some point. And for good reason—coworking can offer a number of benefits, from increased productivity to a sense of community.
But if you’re new to the world of co-working, it can also be a bit daunting. How do you make sure you’re being respectful and considerate of your fellow coworkers? What are the unwritten rules of working in a shared space?
Never fear; we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll go over some basic coworking etiquette 101, so you can make the most of your co-working experience.
1. Make Sure You’re Respectful of Noise Levels
This one should go without saying, but it’s worth repeating: be considerate of your noise levels. Just because you’re in a shared space doesn’t mean you can make loud phone calls, blast your music, or have shouting matches with your coworkers.
If you need to make a phone call, step outside or into a meeting room. And if you’re working on something that’s particularly loud (like using a power drill), make sure to let your neighbors know in advance.
“Loud noises can do more than just damage the eardrums and lead to hearing loss over time. They can cause anxiety, increase blood pressure, and even lead to heart problems,” says Melanie Bedwell, E-commerce Manager at OLIPOP.
So please, be considerate of your noise levels—for your own sake, and for the sake of your coworkers.
2. Keep Your Workspace Clean and Tidy
Nobody wants to work next to a messy desk. So do your part to keep the shared workspace clean and tidy. This means wiping down your desk after use, throwing away any trash, and putting away any belongings that you don’t need during the day.
3. Don’t Hog Meeting Rooms or Common Areas
Meeting rooms and common areas are meant to be shared, so don’t hog them for yourself. If you’re using a meeting room, make sure to leave it tidy for the next person. And if you’re working in a common area, be conscious of how much space you’re taking up and try to share with others.
4. Be Mindful of Your Food and Drink
Nobody wants to smell your fish tacos from across the room. So be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking, and try to keep strong-smelling food to a minimum. And if you do need to reheat something in the shared kitchen, be sure to clean up afterwards.
5. Be Considerate of Others
This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: be considerate of your fellow coworkers. This means respecting people’s personal space, not being disruptive, and being polite in general.
6. Make Sure Your Visitors Are Aware of the Co-working Etiquette
If you’re expecting visitors, make sure they’re aware of the basic coworking etiquette. This means being respectful of noise levels, keeping their belongings tidy, and not hogging meeting rooms or common areas.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
If you’re unsure about something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are, your fellow coworkers will be happy to point you in the right direction.
According to Max Schwartzapfel, CMO of Fighting For You, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not reaching out for help. They said, “At the end of the day, we’re all here to help each other out. So if you need help with something, don’t be afraid to ask.”
This is especially true for new people. Max Schwartzapfel continued, “In most cases, we all were once in the same shoes as the new person. We remember how it felt to be the newbie, so we’re more than happy to help out.”
8. Be Considerate of Different Working Styles
We all have different working styles, so try to be considerate of others. Some people prefer complete silence while they work, while others like to have some background noise. Respect people’s preferences and adjust your own behavior accordingly.
If you need help adjusting your work style, there are numerous programs available that can put you on the right track. “I like to try different things to see what works best for me,” says Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager from Patriot Coolers. “I’ve tried a bunch of different apps and tools, and they’ve really helped me to be more productive.”
9. Take Breaks When You Need Them
Working in a shared space can be taxing, so make sure to take breaks when you need them. Step away from your desk for a few minutes, grab a cup of coffee, or take a walk outside.
If you’re not convinced that your body and mind need time to recharge, take it from Adam Bém, Co-Founder and COO from Victoria VR. “I used to work for hours on end without taking a break, and it would always lead to me feeling burnt out,” says Adam Bém. “Once I started taking more breaks, I noticed a huge difference in my productivity.”
10. Be Respectful of People’s Personal Belongings
Just because you’re sharing a workspace doesn’t mean you have free reign over people’s personal belongings. So if you see something that isn’t yours, resist the urge to touch it.
11. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
If someone isn’t following the co-working etiquette, don’t be afraid to speak up. Politely remind them of the rules and ask them to please adjust their behavior.
12. Be Flexible
Things change, so be flexible. If the shared workspace is getting too crowded, try working from home for a day or two. Or if you need to make a phone call, step outside or into a meeting room.
13. Keep an Open Mind
We all have different working styles, so try to keep an open mind. You might not like the way someone does things, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
14. Communicate With Your Fellow Coworkers
If you have any concerns, be sure to communicate with your fellow coworkers. This can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Most Importantly—Have Fun!
Remember, co-working is supposed to be fun! So take the time to get to know your fellow coworkers, exchange ideas, and make the most of the shared space.