Shared Workspace Etiquette

Hanna Mansson
Hanna Mansson|


There are now an estimated 1.91 million freelancers contributing to the economy in the UK, a rise of 36%  since 2008. Add to this the 200,000+ start ups that formed in the capital last year alone and you’ll realise just how much of a necessity shared office space is becoming in London.

As a result, co-working spaces like WeWork are booming. The company’s valuation hit $16 billion this year and there are ambitious plans to open at least 10 new London locations by the end of 2017 to meet demand.

Shared Workspace Etiquette at WeWork

Co-working can be great for your creativity and productivity, but does this shift towards a new way of working mean we can throw out the old office rulebooks?

Sadly not. It’s definitely a more relaxed and progressive dynamic, but there are still a few golden rules that’ll stand you in good stead with your fellow freelancers, start ups and budding entrepreneurs. Even in today’s freshest co-working hangouts, a little shared office etiquette goes a long way.

It’s good to talk…

A roomful of workers sitting in silence isn’t what co-working is about. Working in a shared workspace environment makes it easy to collaborate, share ideas and help each other out. Just remember that whenever you’re working alongside others, it’s always polite to keep the noise down. Make the most of your co-working space and do say ‘hello’ every once in a while, even if it’s just in the kitchen.

Workspace Etiquette - Networking

Spend some time introducing yourself around the workspace and attending happy hours or other social events. Most co-working spaces host events for this specific purpose – so people can get to know each other without disturbing day-to-day working. At The Brew Eagle House, for example, the Coffice co-working space turns into a French-inspired wine bar after hours, serving Frapas (French tapas) and quality wines from boutique vineyards. The clientele are all your fellow co-workers so it’s a great opportunity to get to know business people, mingle and relax too.

 …just not too loudly

The beauty of co-working is that it brings together individuals with a whole breadth of talents and ideas. This means the people you’ll be working alongside might be doing something creative and are welcoming of listening to music and chatting – or they might be doing something requiring their absolute concentration – budgeting, writing or number crunching for example. Some people need quiet workspace, so respect this. If you’re looking to talk at length with someone, either in person or over the phone, head to a breakout space or book a meeting room instead of conversing at your desk.


That’s another major advantage with a dedicated co-working space – the facilities for meeting, greeting, chatting and presentations are all tailor-made and at your disposal as and when you need them. Event spaces, meeting rooms or just grabbing a coffee over some paperwork, it’s easy to take conversations to more private space – and both the client and your co-workers will thank you for it.

It’s good to share…

When booking meeting rooms or tech for presentations, conferences or events, be sure to have consideration for other freelancers and companies in the building. Try to avoid booking spaces for long, recurring meetings so no one else can make use of the facilities, and if you have a client cancel or reschedule be sure to log in online or let the facilities manager know so they can make the room available to someone else who needs it.

..but perhaps not your love for hard rock


Then mute those computer speakers. Use headphones to listen to your favourite songs unless you want a roomful of people secretly glaring at the back of your head. This goes for Friday afternoon’s too – you may already be winding down for the weekend but other people may not be, so be respectful at all times.

Workspace etiquette - Music

Putting headphones on can also be a clear signal that someone’s busy and concentrating on work, so try not to bother them. In open-plan workspaces its signs like these, rather than traditionally closed doors, that give you hints as to when people don’t want to be disturbed.

Smartphone tips

Leading the way in terms of contributing to poor form in the workspace is the inappropriate use of technology. In fact, a US-based survey by Robert Half Technology found that 64% of surveyed CIOs said the increasing use of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, had led to a significant increase in breaches of workspace etiquette.

Smartphones certainly make life easier, but walking around whilst you have a chat – work-related or otherwise – will be seriously distracting to your co-workers. Office Angels found that it’s a major gripe for a lot of us; with 46% of employees and 36% of employers deeming it unacceptable.


Try popping out to the corridor or breakout space to make calls, be they private or work-related. And texts, tweets or Snapchat might make you feel popular, but the continuous beeping or vibrating throughout the day could secretly be driving your co-workers crazy. Stick to silent mode so you can all keep calm and carry on.

Kitchen etiquette

The architects spent a fortune creating the most beautiful, blissed-out dining space known to man. Your kitchen is a shining brushed steel example of modern culinary technology. So make sure you show some care for your space and co-workers by cleaning up after yourself. Just like you would in a flatshare, if we all do our bit and don’t eat or drink anything that doesn’t belong to us, it will avoid any petty kitchen squabbles.

Keep it clean

Whilst everyone used to have their own office, cubicle or designated desk space, hot-desking means you can now sit yourself down wherever you like. This is great for keeping things fresh, fluid and collaborating but it does rely on everyone looking out for each other. Piling up papers and personalising your workstation are big no-no’s, as someone else is likely to be sitting in the same desk tomorrow.

Office etiquette - keep your desk tidy

Scientists have found that physical clutter negatively affects our ability to focus and process information, so even in a fixed desk office, it’s a good idea to keep your desk tidy and clear things away at the end of the day. Try using a storage locker or taking valuables home with you.

Temperature – keep your cool

Modern co-working spaces tend to have intuitive central heating systems that automatically adjust to internal and external temperatures to keep everybody feeling comfortable. If you do have control of the thermostat remember that not everyone shares your metabolism or dress sense. Always ask around before tampering with that dial.

What essential shared workspace etiquette have we forgotten? Let us know by messaging HubbleHQ on Twitter or Facebook and sharing your thoughts.


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