In the years I spent working for a startup I went through a huge number of ways of working. Most recently I work in co-working spaces, be it at Wayra in Buenos Aires or at the CMI in Santiago as part of the fifth generation of Start-Up Chile.
Once I was able to overcome my fears and my propensity to isolate myself socially, I must admit that I fell in love with co-working spaces. The adaptation process, however, was tough. So, together with my partners, we put together a set of 8 basic commandments that are going to help anyone who starts working in one of these spaces. Here they go:
1- Respect the office rules
Although the rules are often unwritten, all co-working spaces have rules. So, before arriving to work with a pet or wearing a pair of sandals, it is advisable to find out if there are any regulations that might cause an awkward moment. After all, nobody wants to be banned from the new office during the first week.
2- Use a good group chat system
There are times when you need to have some privacy to discuss sensitive topics, such as the money you are earning or, more likely, investing. Or the suspicious tan of the guy sitting in front of you. It is possible to get together to talk in a meeting room, but it is quite tedious to have to do so and interrupt each other’s work every time you need to talk about something in private. So my recommendation is to get a good group chat software. Some highly recommended ones are Campfire, Hipchat or Talker, which are also very customisable and fun.
3- Find “your place” in the office
This recommendation may not be entirely useful for those who work in co-working spaces where you are paid by the hour and where people tend to vary. However, it is vital in spaces belonging to incubators or accelerators, such as Wayra or Start-Up Chile, where you share the same space, with the same people, for an extended period of time. In these cases, it is vital to find a place in the office and make it your own. It is important to discover that table, corner, or small space and conquer it. Use it every day, leave something, even a post-it note, written on the table and also, if necessary, give a straight face to anyone who occupies it. This recommendation aims, fundamentally, to reduce the stress of arriving every day without knowing where and under what conditions you will be able to work.
4- A good pair of headphones can be a great ally.
There are times when concentration is vital. In co-working spaces, however, it is not always easy to achieve it. Luckily, there is a great tool that allows you to isolate yourself from your surroundings and enter an alpha state: a good pair of headphones. For those people who can’t concentrate even with music, a good tip is to invest in a pair of noise-cancelling earmuffs. They’re not the prettiest thing, but they’re always in fashion on the airport ramp.
5- Be self-sufficient
The people around you are most likely friendly, but they are there to work, so it’s important to keep interruptions to a minimum. It’s normal to forget your Wi-Fi password or have a question from time to time and the person sitting next to you knows the answer, but it’s also very likely that the answer is within reach without having to disturb anyone. It is advisable to make a list of passwords, keys, useful telephone numbers and anything else you discover that you may need.
6- Be careful with clutter
Living alone has many advantages. You can arrive home when you want, eat what you want and, if necessary, leave everything untidy. When living with someone else, you have to be a little more careful. The same principle applies to the office.
7- The office is not a church, but neither is it a bar.
Nobody expects a common workspace to be absolutely silent or for people not to have conversations in a normal tone of voice. Talking on the phone is very common and so are jokes and laughter. As mentioned above, anyone who feels the need to isolate themselves can resort to a pair of headphones. But despite that, there are certain limits to be respected; listening to music through loudspeakers is probably one of the most annoying things you can do in a coworking space. Even if you plan to listen to something that everyone enjoys, a shared office is not the place to be.
8- Be a social being and help others.
Life is much simpler for people who are friendly. When you share an office with dozens of strangers, being friendly is a very useful tool to get what you need. But being friendly has more advantages than just convenience. Among all those strangers you might find a great friend, your next business partner, the love of your life or at least a word of encouragement in a difficult moment. Also, don’t forget that co-working spaces, especially those related to incubators, are overflowing with brilliant people who can help you at some point and from whom you can learn a thing or two. No matter how shy you feel, in the long run, a smile and a kind word always bring good results.”
Source: Tomas Franceschin