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So, you’ve decided that you need to get out of the house and are looking for a coworking space. But how do you make the most of the experience? Here are some of my favorite coworking tips:
- Choose your space carefully. If you’re lucky enough to live in a large city with a choice of coworking spaces, it’s worth looking at more than just the facilities that the space offers. Obviously you want to work in a nice environment, but it’s worth checking out the current mix of members, and see what activities and social events the space offers. Some spaces also offer additional services, like mentorship or the Coworking Visa program (see tip #7 ), that are worth considering. One of the main reasons to join a coworking space is the community. Personally, I like spaces with a very diverse membership as it seems to spark my creativity — mixing with people from other industries gives me new perspectives. Try working at your chosen space for a day or two to see how you get on with the building, the facilities and the current members before taking out a full membership.
- Invest in a decent pair of headphones. If you’re used to working on your own, moving to a hybrid coffee shop / office environment can be quite distracting — it can be hard to concentrate on your work when there are a bunch of interesting conversations happening. It’s worth investing in a decent pair of headphones for those times you need to crank out some work. However, you shouldn’t wear them all the time — see the next tip!
- Get to know the other members. Part of the reason for joining a coworking space in the first place is the social aspect — so take the headphones off and talk to people when you can. Go out to lunch with the other members. It’s worth getting to know everyone, because you never know what business opportunities could arise out of your conversations — and it’s also great just to have a few people to bounce ideas off.
- Respect the space. Each space will have its own house rules that you should obviously stick to (here are Citizen Space’s, for example), but regardless of house rules, use your common sense and courtesy. You’re now in a shared environment, so don’t leave dirty coffee mugs or plates lying around for others to tidy up, don’t touch anyone else’s food, don’t leave your gear all over the place, don’t hog the best spots in the office and don’t make unnecessary noise when others are trying to work.
- Use the space to its fullest. If your space allows it, why not organize some events? You could bring in guest speakers on all kinds of interesting topics. It’ll help to bring the community together, will provide promotional opportunities for you and should be a lot of fun. Even if member-run events are not something that’s encouraged, it’s worth talking to the founder or manager — they’d probably view an event as an excellent opportunity to promote the space.
- Work in the cloud. It’s unlikely that you’ll be working solely from your coworking space. And while you’ll probably use a laptop while at your coworking space, it’s worth using cloud-based web apps (Google Docs and Zoho, for example) to provide seamless working between machines and locations.
- Take advantage of the Coworking Visa program. If your space belongs to the Coworking Visa program, it means that you can work for free in other participating locations all over the world. It’s an excellent way to find a cool place to work while you’re on the road, and also a great way to expand your network.
How do you make the most of your coworking space? Share your tips in the comments.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Making Coworking Corporate-Scale