Rebekah Campbell, CEO of Posse, published an incredible article last year in the New York Times about her negative experience of renting out a co-work space. She described the first-day annoyances that later become distractions seven days later. She stated that people were there for the wrong reasons, there was a lot of noise and many overly cheerful individuals. Ultimately, she provided her notice to the company just two months later and never looked back.
A co-work space is an unconventional office environment where workers are not in the employ of the same business. In most of these offices around the world, they’re geared for the work-at-home professionals and independent contractors who want the conveniences of offices and want to exit their at-home isolation. Some of us just can’t look at our cats all day!
The co-work space is meant to be an efficient business-like environment that can help freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers to be productive. But the little annoyances can deter any interested prospect from using the facilities because of the uncouth, discourteous and annoying people that also use these settings. Oftentimes, it’s better to hear the lawn being mowed just outside our windows than spending time with other co-work space occupants!
Your interest may be piqued by the co-work space establishment, but you’re still unsure as to whether or not to take advantage of these workplaces. If you do then be sure not to fall for the very laid back atmosphere because it could prove to be more harm to your productivity.
Here are 12 annoying co-work space etiquette violations that you should NOT make:
1. Yelling, Screaming & Shouting
Growing up, we were always told by our parents, older siblings and teachers to use our indoor voice when we’re inside. It seems a large number of people did not get that memo, as any person can attest to on the bus. At a co-work space, it’s expected that you maintain a level of decorum, and this includes maintaining an indoor voice. This means you shouldn’t be yelling, screaming, shouting or even gesticulating in a bombastic manner.
There are a lot of people who tend to talk really loud to show off their amazing ideas or impress others with their business arrangements. Believe us: you’re not impressing anybody, you’re just annoying the living heck out of everybody who relishes quietness.
2. Being the Anti-Social Curmudgeon
One of the important facets of a co-work space is communication. Although co-work spaces are designed to foster small businesses, many people use it to escape the loneliness of working from home. If you just want to go somewhere to get work done that has all of the technology then a co-work space is the perfect fit. But be sure to at least say "hello" and "how are you?" from time to time. Do not be the anti-social curmudgeon of the co-work space, where everyone is scared to utter a word to you.
3. Being the Social Butterfly
On the other hand, you don’t want to be the chatterbox of the co-work space. Many customers who use the co-work space are professionals who want to get their work done. By consistently chatting about sports, the weather, your next big thing or professional wrestling, you could ostracize yourself and be ignored. Use reason and common sense when striking up a conversation.
4. Don't Pitch Ideas to Every Organization
Are you a start-up looking to partner with another business? Well, if you are, be sure that you’re not interfering in anything important and that the group there is actually in the same field as you.
This is what Rebekah Campbell writes about this type of experience:
But for the most part, our co-workers were wannabes with no real interest in building companies. They wanted the vibe of the scene more than its work. People wandered up to me and asked about Posse and whether they could partner with us — even when there was no rationale for doing so. Being in the same ’community’ extended an implicit invitation for anyone to interrupt our work, pitch an idea or ask advice."
Simply put: your primary goal of using a co-work space is to actually get work done and build something as opposed to feeling the "vibe of the scene." As Campbell explains, just because you’re working in the same "scene" it’s not necessarily an invitation to bother other people and pitch ideas.
5. Making Your Workspace a Pigsty
Whether it’s your first day or last day at the co-work space, you should have some self-respect and dignity to not turn your workstation, or other parts of the environment, into a pigsty. You should always clean up after yourself. In other words, if you’re leaving coffee mug stains on the desks, leaving wrappers on the floor or not flushing after using the toilet, then you should return home.
It’s not hard: don’t be a slob!
6. Making Too Much Noise With Your Stuff
You arrived at the co-work space and there are several groups in deep conversation, while other people are sitting at their workstations typing away. Unfortunately, you walk in and make quite the noise. You’re clanging your laptop, you’re sipping on your Starbucks or Tim Hortons coffee, you’re rearranging the workstation. Some level of noise is expected, but it shouldn’t be so loud that everyone becomes bothered. Beware of the echo...
You don’t want to sound like the video above!
7. Cellphone Use in Quiet Zones
Because of the many complaints that have engulfed owners of co-work spaces, managers have installed quiet zones or no-cell phone use areas. These parts of the co-work space are meant for workers to have some quiet time without the distraction of someone yelling on their mobile phones, once again showing off their impeccable business acumen. Don’t be that person.
8. Avoid the 'Just in Case' Bookings
Many businesses like co-work spaces because they include conference rooms. This is beneficial to a small business or a startup when they want to meet with clients or investors. Any co-work space user should expect many bookings of conference rooms. However, it can be annoying when a person or an organization books a conference for the "just in case" and then it happens to be empty for the next two hours. This time could have been used for somebody else. But no! The booker just had to be self-absorbed and forget about the others.
9. Refrain From Joining Cliques
Oh, the office politics never leave us! Even when you’re working in a non-traditional work setting, office politics still exist. The drama queens, the gossip queens the chronic complainers, office politics will never be eviscerated. One of the reasons why cliques are prevalent is because people want to fit in with certain people, which then create outsiders. Instead of welcoming people into the fold, the insiders look at the outsiders with contempt, which then fosters resentment, gossip and rumors.
10. Hogging Some of the Public Equipment
You don’t have a fax machine, printer or copier at home so you decide to rent out a co-work space to use this equipment. For whatever reason, you left your manners at home and forgot to be courteous to the others. Hogging printers or copiers is just plain rude and should be avoided at all costs.
11. You Don't Have to be Ultra Competitive
In many instances, a co-work space is used by tech startups or freelancers. This means most people are in the same industries, which also breeds and facilitates competition. Now, this doesn’t have to lead you to be ultra competitive and wanting to see everyone else fail. You don’t have to be overprotective of your work, you don’t have to wish ill on others and you don’t have to be intense. Competition is great, but when it leads to bitterness then perhaps it has gone too far.
Here’s some advice: don’t enter the place sweating, don’t have your sleeves rolled up looking to pick a fight and don’t have a snarl on your face. This may seem like an exaggeration, but you never know!
12. Using the Internet for Entertainment
If you’re heading to a co-work space then you can pretty much expect the Internet to be slow at times. It makes perfect sense: 100 or so people are using the Internet for an array of things. The one thing that will slow down the Internet, however, is when there are a handful of people looking to download the entire seasons of "The Simpsons," "Seinfeld" and/or "Coronation Street" for their entertainment because they don’t want to use their data at home. This is wrong and plain rude.
The Internet is important to everyone today so why make it less effective for everyone else?
The concept of a co-work space is an ingenious one. You’re helping people get work done, you’re helping people work together and you’re changing the idea of the conventional office space. Unfortunately, great ideas can be ruined by those who lack proper etiquette. We make mistakes and are sometimes unaware of our surroundings, but when you’re clipping your toenails at a workstation, yelling into your cell phone and picking up dates then something is wrong.
Have you ever used a co-work space? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below…