Coworking Etiquette: What Not to Do in a Shared Office Space

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With the reshuffle of our workspaces due to COVID-19, we’re currently in a new era of workplace dynamics. Contemporary workstyle is now “out with the office cubicle”, and “in with dynamism” - meaning shared office spaces, hot-desking, and hybrid work arrangements. 

Dynamism comes with a range of benefits—collaborative opportunities, more vibrant workplace culture, increased networking and innovation opportunities and so forth. But these benefits also come with a certain set of responsibilities. As in any situation where common space is being shared, it’s imperative that we are aware of those around us and practice common courtesies. 

Shared office spaces come with their own little quirks of etiquette. In this article, we will take you through some of the things to be aware of when coworking and give you a guideline of modern shared office etiquette. 

  1. Be Aware of Your Noise

While coworking etiquette doesn’t mean that you need to treat the office like a library, it does mean that you should keep noise levels to a minimum. A good initial rule to follow is this one: If the noise you are making can be taken outside, take it outside.

So, what does this mean in practice? Firstly, it means taking your phone calls outside of the shared office space, if you can. Secondly, it means that if you are having a social conversation with a colleague, you should be trying to take that conversation to a kitchen, breakroom, cafe, or a common area where you won’t be disturbing too many of your coworkers.

There are also lots of other basic ways in which we can keep noise to a minimum, such as:

  • Turn mobile phones to silent (and preferably silence the vibration as well)
  • Avoid obsessive movements like tapping the desk or clicking a pen
  • If you need to speak to someone, get closer to them and don’t shout or call out
  • Don’t use headphones that project noise 

Basically, it all comes down to being aware of how much noise you are making and minimising it wherever possible. 

  1. Keep Common Areas Clean

If you’re familiar with coworking spaces, you’re probably also aware of how essential it is to clean up after yourself. Whether it’s in the kitchen, breakroom, or meeting rooms, it’s not good communal behaviour to leave a mess. Shared facilities only stay beautiful if everyone does their part to keep them that way!

If you do find that other people have left spaces messy, it’s alright to let them know. But make sure you do it in a respectful way. People can quickly become embarrassed when they’ve been told they’ve created a mess, and you may not get the response you are looking for. 

  1. Keep Your Desk Tidy

You might think that your desk is your own concern and nobody else should care what it looks like. While you can keep your desk as you like, keeping it tidy demonstrates a level of respect for your coworkers. It shows that you want to contribute to a clean and comfortable environment that everyone can enjoy. 

Also, a very big don’t of shared office space etiquette is to eat meals at your desk. No one else wants to smell your food, listen to you eat, or watch the crumbs fall on the floor. Take advantage of the well-equipped kitchens and make the most of your lunch in that beautiful space.

  1. Say Hello

It’s amazing what that one simple word can do. Hello.

If you are working in a shared office space, coworking etiquette is to greet people as you see them. You don’t have to go around the office and ask everyone how their weekend was, but you should show people the respect of recognising that they are a colleague when you see them as such.

It’s a good idea to start this practice straight away when you start using a shared office. It’s much easier to say hello on day one than to awkwardly do it after a month. People who work in coworking spaces are there because they appreciate the value of social and professional interaction, so don’t be afraid to network!

  1. Keep to the Clock

If you are using a shared meeting room, it’s critical that you keep to the clock. You might think your meeting is super important and that it’s alright to run a bit over, but this may also be true for your other coworkers waiting to use the room. Create a meeting schedule and stick to it. When it’s time, it’s time. 

Also, don’t book meeting rooms unless you actually need to use them. If you realise that you don’t actually need to use your allotted time, make sure you cancel your booking so that someone else can use the space and the provided facilities. 

  1. Be Aware of the Space You Use

Just as with the issue of noise, the key here is awareness. Keeping your personal belongings out of the space of others or meeting your guests in a communal space are courteous actions you can take to make sure your shard office coworkers also feel comfortable in their workspace.

So as a general rule, just be sure that you are always aware of how you are using the space you are in, and think about the people you are sharing it with. This will help you avoid being at the centre of coworking funny stories that your colleagues will tell in the pub for years to come!

  1. The Golden Rule

There are a number of different aspects to coworking etiquette, but it can really all be boiled down to the ‘Golden Rule’: treat others as you would like to be treated. If you use the shared space of a coworking environment in a way that respects the personal and professional needs of everyone who uses it, you are going to find that it is a much more comfortable and productive place for you to work in. 


Coworking, Business, Entrepeneur
19 April 2021

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