I'm often the first to sing the praises of coworking spaces--my company, Masthead Media, operates from a shared office, one we love, in downtown NYC. Coworking spaces are a great resource to grow startups and small businesses, they come with built-in networking opportunities, and some are downright gorgeous.
Every coworking space comes with at least one (if not many) clueless member who manage to get under everyone's skin by breaking the shared office's rules--both written and unwritten. It's not that they deliberately go out of their way to drive you crazy (presumably), it's just that common sense and common courtesy are apparently not all that common.
While it's easy to overlook the minor annoyances that are part of the territory of existing in any shared space, these ten coworking fails are just too egregious to ignore.
1. What's Yours Is Mine
Many coworking spaces come with shared resources and office supplies--but this doesn't mean that all office supplies in the building are communal! "Borrowing" supplies, electronics, or office furniture (yes, really, it happens) from others in your coworking space--particularly from their private, locked office offices--teeters between inconsiderate and actual theft (especially if you fail to return what you took!).
2. But Everyone Loves Kids!
Life happens, and a last minute change in childcare plans might necessitate bringing the kids by the office from time to time. However, just as you wouldn't let your kids turn the hallways of a traditional office into a jungle gym, you shouldn't allow unsupervised playtime in the common areas of your coworking space.
3. You Weren't Busy, Right?
Productivity vampire alert! While chatting it up in communal areas is encouraged, walking into someone's office anytime, for any reason, is not. Just because the walls are glass and you can see in isn't an invitation to pitch your business, gossip about the office supply thief, or co-procrastinate. Sounds simple, but be sure to knock and ask it's okay to come in.
4. Forgot My Breathe Right Strips!
Your coworking space is not your bedroom. It is not a hotel. It is an office. Sleeping--and loudly snoring!--for hours on the couch in the main common space is distracting (we've definitely seen this happen on our own community couch!). If your office mates can hear you from all the way down the hall, then your midday nap is problematic. And, truly, it's just weird.
5. This Place Is All You Can Eat, Right?
Please don't spark a passive aggressive Post-It war. Help yourself to the communal snacks in the kitchen, but step away from the clearly owned lunches, leftovers, and yogurts in the fridge. Causing your coworkers hunger will bring the rage to a whole new level.
6. Well If I'm Not Paying for the Heating Bill...
Room temperature is 72 degrees. That's practically science. Plan your work clothing accordingly and step away from the thermostat!
7. Why Book a Conference Room When I Can Chat Out Here?
Seriously, don't linger right outside someone's office and have a call or conversation. Reality check: You are so much louder than you think you are. Reserve a space or grab a phone booth area for the conference call you're leading. The hallway pacing is grating on everyone around you.
8. They Should Name a Conference Room for Me at This Point
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the conference room hogs. Just because you have seemingly endless conference room credits doesn't mean you should reserve a conference room all day every day "just in case."
9. Well If I Must Book a Conference Room, I May As Well Game the System
Let me get this straight: You need the conference room from 9:00 to 9:30, from 10:00 to 10:30, and from 11:00 to 12:00? Either you're scheduling in 30-minute intervals in between meetings for your really loud naps, or you're gaming the conference room system to spread out your credits. This puts your coworkers in the position of evacuating you for their reserved time and watching you hover through their meetings.
10. What a Spacious Bathroom!
There are many coworking bathroom offenses I could get into, but I'll stick with the least gross: using the ADA single stall bathroom to do your business. Why you want all that extra space I'll never know (nor do I want to), but people with disabilities and moms who are nursing would really love it if you kept it free. They may even thank you later by not bringing their kids to work.