Tuesday 26 July 2016 5:00 am

What’s yours is mine – or not: The etiquette of co-working spaces

The collaborative economy has brought with it an increase in the number of shared workplaces. Studies have indicated that as many as 88 per cent of millennials have expressed a desire to be part of this collaborative working culture.

The number of self-employed workers in the UK is growing, and high rents on office space mean that co-working is here to stay.

Sharing a space with like-minded individuals and businesses brings with it a whole host of benefits. These range from practical advantages, such as low-cost and shared upkeep, to the more creative, like being part of a community and growing in an environment buoyed by shared innovation and the exchange of ideas.

But what is today’s etiquette when sharing a work space? When there is more than one company culture, how are rules made? And what is the secret to co-working successfully?

Space is sacred

It can be easy to forget in this new collaborative environment, but workers still need boundaries. We all want our personal space and we have a right to expect that others will respect this.

Never assume that, because you all share the same desire to work in a progressive workplace, you all work in the same way. People are individuals. Some like a quiet space with headphones plugged in, while others like to chat and talk through ideas. Anyone in a co-working environment should be mindful of this.

Keep things professional

It might seem obvious, but young, dynamic companies trying to steer away from corporate and traditional values must still maintain professionalism. In a shared workplace, you are still representing the company you work for and how you behave reflects on your image and brand.

Read more: Corporate co-working: How big firms can benefit

The informality of a shared environment should be enjoyed, but make sure the impression you give is reflective of the service you want to provide as a business.

You never know how those people you are working near might help you in the future.

Listen and learn

You might be in and out of the office, working odd hours, or just keen to be as productive as possible, so try to get to know the people you are co-working with. A shared environment affords you the unique opportunity to speak to others in a similar position and learn from them.

Many of our neighbours are likely to work for agile, small businesses, or ambitious startups with bold and disruptive ideas. Co-working spaces can be a rich vein of inspiration and ideas for the best way to run your business.

Try to involve yourself in social and community events taking place as a way to get to know others working there, and maximise your opportunities to collaborate.

Read more: Uniting the suits and the beards: Co-working’s rise

Live and let live

Finally, and most importantly, be tolerant. Your business runs in one way, and they do things differently. You need to be flexible and considerate.

Just because you don’t believe in 8.30am team huddles, or disappearing at 4.30pm on a Friday for team drinks doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for someone else.

Be open-minded about ways of working. After all, challenging your own ways of thinking is exactly the reason you have chosen this environment.