Don't Do It Yourself

What to Know for Your First Day of Coworking

Coworking Conference Tokyo 2012One of the trends picking up steam, especially amongst entrepreneurs and freelancers, is coworking.

Coworking offers you the ability to take advantage of an office environment without being tied down. When you use a coworking space, you can benefit from the trappings of an office without actually having to work for “the man.”

However, anytime you are in an environment with others, it's important to consider your interactions, and do what you can to make the whole experience pleasant for everyone. If you are interested in coworking, here are some things to keep in mind for your first day:

1. Noise Level

Even though coworking provides the opportunity for interaction when you are a solopreneur, or provides you with an inexpensive workspace for your entrepreneurial startup, it's important to remember that you aren't the only person in the space.

Be aware of the noises that accompany you. If you and your two co-founders are meeting in a coworking space, it's rude to have a lively planning session in the main area where others are trying to work. Instead, you should reserve a meeting room; many coworking spaces offer them.

Also, consider your music and your phone's ringtone. If you will be listening to music, keep it turned down, and use your headphones. Turn down your phone's ringtone so that it isn't obnoxiously informing everyone when you have a call. Consider turning off alerts so that the phone isn't loudly buzzing each time something new happens with your Twitter account or when you get email.

If you are frequently on the phone, or if some other noise is a constant part of your work, coworking might not be for you.

2. Don't Suck the Bandwidth for Personal Use

Remember that you are here to work — and so is everyone else. You can watch funny videos at home if you want. Sucking up the bandwidth for personal use, and slowing it down for everyone else, is rude.

3. Respect Others' Space

Yes, coworking can provide great networking opportunities, and it can also encourage you to get out of your isolation and make new friends with similar interests. However, you also have to respect others' space. Don't infringe too far in others' personal area.

If the coworking area has desks and spaces for “permanent residents” don't mess up those areas or move the chairs around. If someone else is paying a premium for a space, you will need to move when he or she shows up (and you shouldn't change things around in the meantime).

Pay attention to the vibe of the coworking space when you first walk in. Is it casual? Is there interaction? Are there watercooler conversations in certain areas? Conform to the norms of the coworking area and participate in an appropriate manner.

4. Help Out

Remember to help out in the coworking space. Keep your area clean. Don't leave food in the fridge; take it home with you at the end of the day. Clean up your messes. Go ahead and start the dishwasher. If you take the last of the coffee from the pot, start another to brew.

And, if you want to score extra points with everyone, bring in a treat to share sometimes.

For the most part, the same rules of etiquette and common politeness that govern in a more traditional workspace should be applied to your coworking space.