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Co-Working Etiquette: How To Behave In Shared Work Spaces

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Imagine the scene. You have just settled into your temporary desk for the day, ready to set the world on fire with your master plans – and how magnificent they are too!
Now, as you smile confidently at the co-workers around you, picture the person at the desk a few metres away snorting theatrically down the phone at their best friend for an hour about some drunken conquests the night before. Do you confront this person, asking them to lower their tone in order to get some work done? Or are you sat frustratingly pondering why these people don’t follow the same code of conduct that you do to make this a nicer place to work?

Here are my top tips to avoid being that unpopular person and for being a perfectly behaved coworker:

1. If You Can Hear Others, They Can Hear You.
Everyone needs to take calls, that’s fine, but if it’s personal or of a sensitive nature then please go for a walk – we often forget to stretch our legs when working hard so give everyone a break, including yourself.
This goes for Skype calls and music levels too, nobody needs to hear your terrible taste in music from a tinny laptop speaker – headphones are a fantastic invention, just make sure you can’t hear the music over those too. But, please, don’t whistle or hum along, it’s equally as infuriating to your coworkers.
Nobody expects you to be deathly silent all day, however, this isn’t a bar and people are trying to get some work done – it’s all common sense.

2.Don’t Play “Hansel And Gretel” At Your Desk.
Making a mess whilst eating or drinking is a given, but please take away dirty crockery and dust away the remains of your elevenses before leaving your seat – leave the workspace as you found it, the next person won’t thank you for leaving breadcrumbs and lipstick-coated mugs on the desk.

3. Don’t Be A Space Hog.
It’s simply not OK to take a spot, leave your coat and bags on the chair all day and then work your way around to everywhere BUT this space. Somebody might want to use it and may even be turned away because there isn’t a seat for them, this is purely selfish – it’s unbelievable just how many shared spaces I see with laptops out, but no owner attached to it for hours throughout a day – where do they go?!
Also, don’t take up a large workspace just for yourself – if using a large communal table it can sometimes be tempting to spread out, but be wary of this with other people around as they may want to use the same space, but feel as though they can’t.

4. Don’t Ignore Your Coworkers – Say Good Morning!
You truly don’t know where it might lead to nod and acknowledge your fellow coworkers – build up a relationship or two as you make a coffee and get to know them better. This is especially true if you come across them on a regular basis, you never know who they are and where a conversation may take you both, so use this networking opportunity positively, it’s not costing you the fee of a business networking event, so make the most of it.

5. The “I’m Paying For This, So I’ll Do As I Please” Attitude.
This attitude stinks, pure and simple – show some common courtesy. If you spill your food or drink on the floor or table, it doesn’t take much to grab a napkin or ask for a cloth and clear it up. Don’t steal the teaspoons or photocopy paper, this is not only petty theft, it’s just, well, downright petty.

6. Be Self-Sufficient.
Whilst people within your workspace may be friendly, they are there to work, so try to keep interruptions or intrusions to a minimum. If you forget a Wi-Fi password or need to know how to work the binding machine, sometimes the answers are right there in front of you and you don’t need to make a song and dance about it. Try to chat to your busy looking neighbours as a last resort, they might be about to crack the next big trend or you may be about to interrupt their big discovery…

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One Comment

  1. I actually found this more enarnttieing than James Joyce.

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