The Do’s and Don’ts of Coworking Spaces

Author: Katie Truesdell Date: April 14, 2014

How to follow the unspoken rules of shared offices.

Comedian Larry David built a career writing about unspoken social rules, first on NBC’s Seinfeld, then on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. He’d surely adhere to workplace rules as well: Chew gum quietly, take personal calls outside and (what should be obvious) no fingernail clipping at your desk. In short, be courteous and not annoying.

Workplace etiquette is even more crucial now as many startups and small business owners turn to coworking spaces as budget-friendly, social office environments. According to online magazine Deskmag, between 2012 and 2013 there was an 83 percent increase in the number of coworking spaces, serving 117 percent more people, worldwide.

If your small business joins this growing trend to use coworking spaces, consider these unspoken do’s and don’ts so as not to wear out your welcome.

Do network and collaborate. 

Every coworking space is different, but in general, the social aspect is part of the whole point. Introduce yourself, make friends, contribute to group discussions, attend planned events and offer help. Mike Moriarty, partner and director of sales and marketing for NFIB member organization Go Fish Digital in Ashburn, Va., says he has found people are always willing to answer questions and share networks. Go Fish Digital, a marketing agency, has even landed two new clients met at the coworking space.

Don’t hard sell to other coworkers. 

Coworking is built on trust, says Michael Clingan, Loveland, Colo., author of Close That Sale!, and using the coworking space to sell violates that trust. Because you’re networking, collaborating and getting to know others, everyone will know what you do and will hire you if you’re a fit. So there’s no need to push your small business’ offerings on others.

[RELATED: To Increase Sales, Think Beyond the Hard Sell]

Do confirm desk availability before setting up your area. 

Depending on the coworking space, desks may be assigned, says Justin Davis, founder of smartphone app Drawer, who has been using a coworking space in Tampa, Fla., for more than two years. Before you get settled in, check in with the site administrators to confirm that a specific desk isn’t already rented out.

Don’t forget to reserve private areas for meetings. 

It’s OK—even encouraged—to bring clients in for meetings or coworkers in for team work, says Heidi Nazarudin, a success and style blogger who uses a coworking space in Santa Monica, Calif., but stick to the designated areas like meeting rooms or the lounge. It’s impolite to carry on these conversations in quiet work areas where people need to concentrate.

[RELATED: 7 Places to Hold a Meeting When You Don't Have a Meeting Room]

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