First of all, what is coworking? Coworking is when an individual or company share an office space with multiple other businesses. Coworking has become increasingly popular over the last decade due to its cost efficiency, convenience and networking opportunities. There are varying levels of membership; some members pop in a few times a month for a change of scene, others rent a full time desk and some businesses rent private offices within the coworking space.
There are often misconceptions over who coworking is for. The coworking industry really took off alongside the boom in start-ups especially in major cities all over the globe. However, it is no longer just start-up companies who enjoy the benefits of coworking; huge global players also use coworking spaces to base their satellite offices. In a post-pandemic society, many businesses lean towards flexible hours and coworking spaces have been able to keep up with the evolving needs of small and large businesses.
In addition to private offices, individual members are at the heart of coworking culture. When you have a combination of professionals from a plethora of sectors, the buzz of opportunities can be quite extraordinary. The key to making the most of your coworking space begins and ends with collaboration.
1. Introduce yourself, ok!
That 'first day of school' feeling can be pretty daunting but the best way to handle it is to throw yourself into the experience. Being the new kid on the block is actually great for conversation starters so don't be afraid to ask questions and reach out to your fellow members. Even though your sectors may be miles apart, coworking spaces tend to attract like-minded individuals and you may be surprised what you can learn from different industries.
If you're generally not a fan of small talk and usually avoid talking to strangers, set yourself a target of introducing yourself to just three members in your first week. Talk about the weather, last night's football game... anything works! Take a deep breath and leave your comfort zone behind - it's only holding you back!
2. Budge up!
Due to the flexible, fluid nature of coworking spaces, the layouts are usually pretty varied. This can be great as it means your environment is more stimulating and you can enjoy a change of scenery by basing yourself somewhere different everyday. You may have different environmental needs for different tasks, and coworking spaces allow you to be more fluid with your seating arrangements. Being able to take yourself to soft furnishings for discussions, or quiet booths for crunching numbers is a real luxury that standard offices (or home offices) simply cannot provide.
However, remember when you join a coworking space you are entering into a new community and therefore it is vital to respect your fellow members. We've all rushed to put our towel down to save the best sunbeds on holiday, but coworking has different etiquette! Be conscientious and don't hog the best seats in the house all day at your workspace. Coworking ethos is grounded in sharing and collaborating so do your bit and move around! Being considerate also extends to your noise levels when on the phone in communal areas and also your eating habits... we always recommend avoiding the smelly and the messy!
3. Show up.
Most coworking spaces make an effort to organise weekly or monthly socials for their members. This may be after work drinks in the lobby, breakfast clubs, workshops or organised networking events. These are a real gift so make the most of them! Many professionals who work at home have to actively seek out networking opportunities, so to have your coworking space do the hosting, all you need to do is show up!
We get it, sometimes after a day at work you're just not in the mood to socialise and talk about more work. Push yourself to stay for one drink, one conversation, one coffee... and more often than not you'll get in your groove and end up having a fantastic time.
Connections that you make are crucial to individual and company growth. Your multi-million collaboration idea could be waiting for you at your next coworking social... you'll never know if you don't go!
4. We are family!
Everyone is trying to make it and there is plenty of room at the top! It's not always about what YOU can gain from making connections with other members. Instead, consider what you can do to support them. Be generous when it comes to sharing your expertise and your experience. If you are willing to genuinely help your fellow members, you will form authentic relationships which are far more valuable in the long run.
When chatting with other members, consider how you can help or support their business. Ask plenty of questions, listen attentively and offer value where you can. Discussion should be mutually beneficial - it's a two way street!
5. Use the space!
Being able to take a break away from your desk is one of the best things about joining a coworking space. If evening drinks or organised coffee mornings aren't your cup of tea, there are still plenty of opportunities to build your network in an informal setting during you working day. Strike up a conversation in the kitchens or at the coffee bar and start building your network.
Not only will it help refresh your productivity and positivity, but it is also a great way to interact casually with other members who are also 'taking five'. When planning your day, think about how you can incorporate time away from your desk to integrate with your community.
It is down to you how much you want to take advantage of being a part of a coworking community. As long as you are a member, the opportunities for branching out will always be there and the potential outcomes are endless. It's time to start seeing your office space as more than simply a place to get your work done. A whole host of opportunities are right around the corner, if you're willing to step away from your desk!