One of the best aspects of a coworking space is that you’re working alongside people from all different walks of life. It keeps your workspace fresh and inspiring. However, diverse personalities and backgrounds also means that there needs to be certain rules in place to keep the peace and maintain the positive environment. Without these rules, you can have a disgruntled group of coworkers — which makes for a not-so-great workspace.
Here’s what you can do to keep your favorite workspace from dissolving into chaos.
Be courteous with your phone calls
First things first, check to see if a phone booth is available. They are there for a reason. And that reason is that no one wants to hear your conversation. If the phone booths are all full, try finding a lounge area, ducking into a hallway, or perhaps find an area with high ceilings. Plan ahead and look for a spot at least five minutes before your phone call.
If you absolutely can’t find a quiet corner and you want to avoid having people give you the stink eye, lower your voice and keep the call short. Your neighbors will understand that you’re trying your best to be respectful.
Avoid strong smells
Strong smells are a no-no. That includes sweaty gym clothes, your favorite perfume or scented lotion, or fish lunch. It’s better to leave those scents at home. What smells good to you might be super stinky and distracting to someone else.
Avoid creating an unpleasant work environment for others by containing these smells and go for more neutral alternatives. Keep your sweaty clothes in a sealed bag. Pick subtle smelling beauty products. Replace that durian snack with something non-smelly and just as delicious. Our favorites are trail mix and seaweed. Try it out!
Keep your personal workspace small and tidy
Leaving dirty cups, dishes, and crumbs everywhere? Have your stuff taking up two coveted ergonomic office chairs? Putting your bare feet up on the lounge couch? Congratulations, your neighbors might be secretly hating you.
A coworking space is a shared space so you should try to keep your personal workspace area to a minimum. Make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable that it is bothering anyone passing by. Rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t do it in a traditional office setting, you should think twice about doing it in a coworking space.
Network only when it makes sense
You know what it’s like to have a crazy busy day. Those days where you just want to sit down with your coffee and stay laser focused on what needs to get done. Recognize when your neighbors are having one of those days and leave them alone.
If they have headphones on, that usually means they don’t want to be bothered. If they are in their private office with the door closed, think again about knocking to ask for a favor. However, if they are lounging around in the shared kitchen area, that’s fair game. Introduce yourself and say hi!
Follow the community manager’s lead
Their space, their rules. Each coworking space has their own house rules and the community manager is there to enforce them.
Before you hop into the empty conference room, speak to the community manager to see if it’s okay. Before you leave your travel luggages in the hallway, check in with the team. If you want to do anything out of the norm, ask first. And remember that community managers are not there to ruin your day by not accommodating your special request. If the answer is no, respect that.
Some coworking neighbors are better than others. Now you know how to be one of the good ones!
Nisha Garigarn is one of the founders of Croissant, the app that lets remote workers access coworking spaces on-the-go. She loves exploring New York’s cozy coffee shops and trying coconut flavored snacks.