When it comes to shared office space, there are written and unwritten rules, just like any traditional office space. Regardless of whether you work in a communal lounge or a coffee shop, there is a certain level of etiquette that a person should maintain around others. And while most of us know that smacking our gum, spitting, or chewing with our mouths open is impolite, there are a few other not-so-obvious rules that should be followed under shared workspace etiquette. Unsure of what they are? That’s why we’re here.
Be Mindful Of Others
Although a shared office space is quite different from a traditional office environment, people are still trying to get work done. Taking extensive phone or Skype calls in an open area can be loud and distracting to others around you who are trying to get work done. If you have a planned call, schedule a private office space or reserve a conference room ahead of time. If the call is last minute, step outside of the main area, use headphones or use the phone directly. Remember, stepping away from anyone who seems hard at work isn’t a bad idea. Noise isn’t the only thing to be aware of, consider how much space you’re using, or if your food may be giving off a strong odor. Being cognizant of how your actions impact others around you is one of the golden rules of open office space etiquette.
Shared office spaces are great for generating new ideas, bouncing concepts off of others, and cultivating thoughts you may not have come up with on your own. Showing your face in the open area and networking with your deskmates is a great way to find new business opportunities or to just meet new people at your office. The key is being open to introducing yourself to new people, whether at a special event or by the coffee machine. Ask people about the work they do, any events they may be participating in, or just how their day is going. It’s not as hard as it seems. That being said, do not be afraid to let others know if you have a deadline and cannot participate in an activity or a quick brainstorming session with a friend. Communication is key, even if you are not working directly with someone.
Keep it Lighthearted
We all know that any office has the ability to get tense at times. Coworkers or deskmates clash. Some personalities do not mesh well. But that’s a part of life. The best way to deal with confrontations in the office is with tact and empathy. Even in a professional environment, it’s important to remember the human element and treat everyone around you with dignity and respect. Instead of asking, “Could you turn that down? I’m really trying to focus here…” try, “I’m working on a crazy deadline right now. I love this song, but would you mind turning it down a bit until I can listen to it with you?” And don’t talk too often about work. Sometimes, people want to forget what they’re working on and just talk about the weekend over lunch or watch the television in the morning. By keeping the tone light, you’re more likely to avoid workplace conflict and maintain harmony.
When going to a shared office space, be sure that you have all the tools necessary to get your work done. If listening to music helps you focus, remember to bring your headphones. Some people even bring laptop stands, notebooks, pens and pencils, and a laptop mouse. Consider making and packing your own lunch to work. Not only does it help you save money in the long run, it’s actually faster and more convenient than ordering or going to a restaurant. Another thing to remember: just because it is called a shared office space does not mean that everything is meant to be shared. It’s important to follow open office space etiquette and ask permission before using people’s chargers or equipment.
Stay Clean and Organized
Nobody likes a dirty and disorganized deskmate. No matter how busy you or your team become during the day, there’s no excuse for leaving a messy workstation. Remember to take your belongings with you after using a desk. Clean, pack or discard any food or dinnerware after eating. Return any office supplies you may have borrowed from the building staff or your nearby deskmates. Staying clean and hygienic is one of the top “unwritten” open office space rules to respecting the space and those around you.
Observing Shared Workspace Etiquette
The coworking experience depends heavily on the people who adhere to the open office space rules and etiquette. Those who follow the rules and etiquette, the ones who make and take every opportunity to treat others politely and keep their space clean, tend to work more efficiently and have a more satisfying office experience. Just remember that your workspace is shared with others, so treat your deskmates’ space and privacy with as much respect as you would like in return.
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