WeWork. NeueHouse, Grind, The Yard. If you’re a small business or start up owner, chances are you are either already in one of these hip or pseudo-hip shared office environments, or thinking of joining one. Want free beer? There’s a co-working space for that. Want foosball tables? Check. Want camaraderie, parties, inspiration, motivation? Check Check Check Check. Leaving the proverbial garage for an overpriced cubby in a shared, hip office space can increase your productivity, help you meet like minded people, and expose you to the amazingly inconsiderate behavior of your space-mates.
It’s true. Shared office spaces have lots going for them. But they also have one big downside: all those PEOPLE. With their icky, yucky, nasty habits. Want to NOT be one of THOSE people? Read on.
- No One Wants to Hear your Conversation. Earbuds were invented for a reason. The key to the shared office space is that is SHARED. But I do not want to share your Facetime/Conference Call/Video Conference. Use your headphones.
- Not knowing whose food it is, doesn’t make it yours. Our shared office space has a shared refrigerator. How many times have I left a half a sandwich in there for the next day, only to arrive the next day and find it mysteriously gone? Too many. Here’s a tip: if you see some food in the refrigerator, and it isn’t yours: DON’T EAT IT.
- The Phone Booth is not your Personal Office: Like many shared office spaces, ours has a few teeny tiny windowless rooms designated as phone booths. You can go in there if you need a bit of privacy for a call. What you can’t do, is go in there and take a nap, rock out to music, or camp out for an entire work day. I know some people have “floater” desks., meaning they can sit at one of the communal spaces in our office, but don’t have a room to call their own. I feel for you. I do. But that doesn’t make the phone booth your personal space. Get the hell out of there.
- Bathroom Etiquette is Key – Look, we all go the bathroom. We just don’t like to discuss it. Or smell it. But in a shared office, the bathroom isn’t YOUR bathroom. We all have to go in there. Rule number one in a communal bathroom is: it’s only gross if it isn’t yours. That means, if you pee on the seat: you wipe it up. If it’s that time of the month, you discard of your own feminine hygiene products; if you’re using the bathroom for anything other than peeing, learn the Courtesy Flush: once whatever is leaving your body hits the water FLUSH. Fast. Lastly: don’t talk on the phone while you’re in the stall. Ewww. Just eww.
- Communal Property isn’t Yours At our shared office, the flatware in the kitchen is always disappearing. Really, people? That’s called stealing. You are stealing cheap Ikea forks and spoons. Have some dignity.
- Keep your shoes on – I’m so very glad you feel comfortable in the common areas of our office. But I do not want to see you, shoes off, feet up on the couch, eating Cheetos and surfing the ‘net. That’s what HOME offices are for. This is not your home. Shoes are not optional…and for that matter, neither are shirts.
- Decide if your dog really belongs. My office is dog friendly, and on any given day, there may be five or six dogs wandering around. My rescue-mutt is not one of them. I love my dog. I also know my dog. He likes to play. If there are other dogs around, he will bark at them for attention. He will not come when called. He will be generally annoying. He stays home. If your pooch is a barking, pee-when-excited, poorly trained wreck, or worse, has even one iota of aggression, leave him home. He probably sleeps all day anyway.
- My trash can is not your trash can As in most offices, we put our trash can outside of our office every night before we leave for the day. And every morning, we come in to find it filled to the top with other people’s trash. Empty coffee cups, half eaten pizza slices, reams and reams of paper. What is wrong with you people? If you see a small trash bin outside an office door, it means it belongs in that office.There are general garbage pails around the office, use those!!
- Put a sock in it Might I remind you that this is a shared office. You are in a common space. Arguing with your ex at full volume over Skype is not acceptable. Discussing the very private financial status of your clients- not so good. Leaving your tax returns in the printer for all to see – just plain stupid. That is all.