Surviving in a coworking community

Written by Shu Tan,  Principal, Strategy Execution, Telstra and Co-Creator of Higher Spaces

When you work in a coworking space, you share it with a diverse mix of people who change in and out. Diversity can be both exciting and disquieting when the people around you don’t share the same values as you.  Some people tend to hop between different coworking spaces because a previous one didn’t work for them. How do you adapt to a coworking space and make it work for you?

I have worked in shared workplaces for a long time and have learnt some practical things you can do to survive in a coworking community.

Show and earn respect in small ways

Find small ways to show courtesy, understanding and kindness. Simple things count, like holding the door for someone, helping with something small without being asked, saying a quick “hello” or offering some chocolates. Coworkers will start to notice your small acts of kindness and feel a sense of respect for you.

Handle conflicts in subtle ways

Most observed conflicts in a coworking space are triggered by noise levels, untidiness and hogging meeting rooms. Accumulated acts of kindness provides a good foundation for dealing with conflicts. Here are some easy tips to help you manage and turnaround conflicts:

Offer an alternative without being direct

If you notice someone taking calls on speaker phone, offer them an alternative to take their calls in the meeting or phone booth.

Show what good looks like and offer help

If someone leaves a mess in the kitchen, find an opportunity to show what it means to be tidy and offer some help. You could say “I see you have left some chopped onions on the surface, here’s a kitchen wipe to help you clear it”.

Give constructive and continuous feedback

Instead of complaining and walking out in disappointment, use the feedback form to provide improvement ideas. This is an effective way to turn your dissatisfactions into practical actions for the coworking provider to do. Feedback can be simple suggestions such as notices to remind people to “Keep noise level down at all times” or “Keep kitchen area tidy after use”

Manage your expectations and sensitivity when it comes to what matters to you at work. All you need are a few effective techniques to help you feel comfortable in your workplace.


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