How to Work in a Shared Office

Working in a shared office environment may be a new concept for many people. Gone are the days of everyone having their own private offices. These days employers are growing their businesses rapidly and looking for ways to innovate and stay on track budget-wise. Shared offices have emerged as an effective way to accomplish that feat. 

Working in a shared office space sometimes gets negatively reviewed, often unfairly. Sure, the quieter introverts among us may prefer a solo office situation, but the benefits to shared office spaces are too plentiful and tend to outweigh the potential cons. Yes, even for us introverts. 

If you want to succeed in a shared office space there are a few things to know ahead of time. Many of us have learned from our mistakes and the mistakes of others and, thus, we have some tips for working in a shared office space at the ready!

Shared Office Etiquette: Be a Great Coworker! 

Shared office etiquette can be written or unwritten. Generally speaking, any office space you inhibit is going to have a set of ground rules for you to sign onto. There should be a code of conduct covering the most basic of shared office rules and regulations. These rules are extremely important to fully understand before you sign on to any shared working space and you should take them seriously.

Typically they are basic rules created to ensure the safety of all workers in the shared office. That is the breadth and depth of what they tend to cover. They do not tell you how to behave to ensure that your coworkers are not burdened by your annoying work habits and office faux paus. Those more nuanced rules are sometimes left entirely unsaid and you are left to glean from those around what the dos and don’ts of shared office space are.

Tips for working in a shared office space may vary slightly depending on the situation you are in. For example, if you are working for an organization that utilizes open office concepts to maximize space and create a environment of collaboration among office workers the etiquette will be quite different than if you are in a shared office environment where workers are not collaborating on projects or working together to meet shared deadlines. If you are not bouncing ideas off of colleagues or information sharing for the benefit of your organization, then there will be very different guidelines to follow for how to interact with workers in the shared office.

Respect! Shared office etiquette comes down to one main thing: respect. Yes, respect. You should have respect for your work, your office and everyone in the office. Easy, right? Well, no…At times we need a bit more guidance than that to get it right and to be sure you are not the one committing the shared office faux pas or annoying others with your own work habits, you will want to take heed of a few small things.

Communication is key. When there is a conflict in a shared office space it can become increasingly tense and turns very quickly into a situation where you are not able to focus or get your work done to the point where it is negatively impacting your day in a major way. When small conflicts arise in a shared office space it is best to approach them head on in a peaceful and non combative way. Approach anyone you have a disagreement with in a respectful way and communicate clearly and effectively to ensure they understand what the problem is and what action you would like to see taken. 

More often than not people are happy to shift to a more agreeable place when they are approached in this way. Very few of us enjoy conflict, but just remember that disputes left unspoken tend to linger and fester longer than they need to. Don’t let a small problem become a large problem; be proactive in creating a communicative relationship with colleagues and shared office workers. 

Be flexible! It is difficult for any of us to admit this, but, generally speaking, we can get very stuck in our ways as humans. Remember that a shared office space is not a personal space and you and many other people are all working together. There are myriad benefits to this arrangement and even if you are generally thankful for your shared office it can be easy to feel stuck in our ways and be reluctant to compromise. Compromise, however, is necessary at times in a shared office. 

Perhaps you have noticed a particular time of day where others are rustling about or eating lunch or otherwise distracting you from an important task? Moringins are particularly hard for some of us and we don’t always enjoy sharing space until we have had some time to wake up. If that’s the case for you consider starting your day later to avoid entering your shared office in a foul mood that could be off putting to others. The flip side to this is you may have some time in the evening when the office is quiet and many people have gone home where you feel able to do your best work on projects that require complete focus. 

Following some simple etiquette suggestions like these can go a long way in making shared offices happy and productive places to be! Just keep these tips for working in a shared office space in mind and you may find yourself more productive and happy than you ever would be in a solo office.