9 Tips for Working in a Shared Office Space
The workforce is the lever behind economic growth (to use a term from physics). Without the dynamic workforce, many businesses would be unable to generate the innovation and growth they are achieving today. And when it comes to the workforce behind their economic engines, freelancers and contingent workers are a pivotal factor.
Rise of the Contingent Workforce and Virtual Businesses
The size of what is often called the gig workforce varies depending on the source. SIA reports revealed the number of U.S. workers who would be classified as contingent reached 35% in 2020. . There are numerous reasons for this exponential growth. One at the top of the list is the 2008 Great Recession. Some of the workers who lost their jobs a decade ago have simply been unable to locate full-time equivalent work or have chosen to work in freelance roles. Companies have gotten wiser as well, tapping a contingent workforce to save costs and to achieve greater flexibility.
While Uber, Lyft, and other companies come to mind when one mentions the gig workforce, workers in these roles are just one segment. For professionals who have pursued contingent roles, they suddenly find themselves without a permanent workspace in many instances. In these cases, whether prompted by the companies who hire them or simply their own decision (e.g., workers who cannot work from home due to distractions/interruptions or those who desire collaboration with other professionals), shared office space is very often the solution.
What is a Shared Office?
A shared office, also called a coworking space, is an office space shared by gig workers and entrepreneurs alike, who may not have a personal space at home to work, or a central office. There are open spaces available, like a single desk among a group of freelancers, as well as private offices and meeting rooms to allow for better focus and privacy.
Use of shared office space is coming from the other direction as well. Small businesses are electing to forego permanent office space, choosing to use virtual offices that include professional addresses combined with coworking space, day offices, and rented meeting rooms. This helps them to avoid long-term leases and capital expenditures (CapEx) while giving them greater agility for business growth and scale.
Tips for Working in a Shared Office Space
Irrespective of the reasons why a worker finds herself or himself in a shared office location, the dynamics are definitively different than working from a home office or permanent office location. Distractions in a shared office location can consume substantial time, and managing the logistics of a shared office space can also become a time consumer. Yet, at the same time, a shared workspace can also drive productivity gains and opportunities if leveraged in the right way.
Following are some tips that shared workspace workers can employ to ensure the foibles of shared office environments do not impact them, but rather they get full value from their shared workspace endeavor:
1. Find a Workspace Easy to Reserve.
Professional workers are busy, and the last thing they have time to do is to expend valuable time and energy reserving and managing shared workspace. In these instances, workers—and businesses for those that have embraced a virtual office approach—should ensure that their shared office provider offers multiple channels for vetting and booking a space and reserving conference rooms when needed. Being able to reserve a space or room via a website is good. Being able to use a mobile app like the one from Davinci Meeting Rooms is better. In addition, providers need to provide workers and businesses with the ability to ask questions or get support via phone, text, or live web chat.
2. Consider a Lobby Greeter.
Not every shared office location includes a lobby greeter. The impact of no lobby greeter extends from visitors to workers. For example, visitors—clients to partners—have no one who can answer their questions about the location before arriving (e.g., parking, location, etc.), no one who can notify businesses and workers that they have arrived, and no one to answer questions while they are on site (e.g., rest rooms, restaurants, administrative services). Workers in the shared office space also suffer when there is no lobby greeter present and see reduced productivity.
3. Avoid Noisy and Disruptive Locations.
Areas that receive a lot of foot traffic and spaces beside kitchens and bathrooms can be noisy and disruptive. Workers should stay away from those when reserving a workspace location.
4. Wear Headphones.
Noise cancelling headphones can eliminate disruptions when noisy locations are unavoidable. Research also indicates that workers who listen to music tend to complete their tasks faster and to develop better ideas than those who do not listen to music.
5. Think About Visual Optics.
Facing congested areas can be a productivity drag. A cluttered workspace or environment that is unappealing can also have a similar impact. Workers may want to think about facing their chair towards the wall instead of facing an area full of activity and interaction. They also can take steps to improve the visual optics of the workspace—keeping it clean and organized and even bringing a few personal belongings (e.g., photo, etc.) that help foster a personal connection with the space.
6. Use the Two-minute Rule.
Professional work is demanding, and it involves a lot of different moving parts—project management, incoming email and text, phone calls, meetings. Procrastination and not dealing with issues in a timely manner can create stress and even lead to unproductivity. This is where the two-minute rule can help—namely, if the task can be done in two minutes or less, then do it.
7. Take Breaks.
Trying to work nonstop for hours on end is not productive. Doing so actually diminishes efficiencies and results in less focus, more errors, and reduced innovation. Taking breaks is important. This is not time for personal email and social media, but rather necessitates getting up and taking a walk or having a conversation.
8. Locate Private Day Offices.
For those professionals working in a coworking space, there are times when private, quiet workspaces are needed—whether due to the need to focus on a project or the need to have confidential conversations. While not every shared office provider may have day offices, some do like Davinci Meeting Rooms. Thus, it is important to include this on the list of vetting requirements when selecting a shared office provider.
9. Use Administrative Support.
Just as not all shared office environments come with lobby greeters and day offices, not everyone includes administrative support. Whether collating documents, sending and receiving faxes, notarizing a document, or making photocopies, administrative services can have a huge impact on a worker’s level of productivity as well as the successful execution of a client or partner meeting.
Workspace should be a work enabler and not something that detracts from worker productivity. The on-demand workspace market is growing rapidly, and as such has introduced great opportunities for businesses and workers alike. But it has also created new workplace challenges that can slow business and inhibit productivity and creativity. With the above recommendations, businesses and workers put themselves in a position to succeed when working from in a shared office environment.