Code of Conduct

Five tips for peace and productivity in coworking spaces

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 65 million Americans (40 percent of the workforce), will be temporary employees, independent contractors, freelancers or solopreneurs by 2020.

The Global Coworking Survey forecasted in January 2016 that by the end of the year, more than 10,000 coworking spaces would open across the world in response to the growing need.

New Orleans reflects the trend with the number of spaces growing in recent years to include Propeller Incubator, The Blue House, The Warehouse, Launch Pad and Landing Zone as popular places to rent space, collaborate and hold meetings and events.

The spaces themselves often feature a combination of private offices, desks in open areas, tables, lounge areas and meeting rooms. This somewhat new way of working presents a new set of business etiquette challenges. With all of that in mind, here are a few tips for peaceful and productive coworking:

• Hold the Phone: The No. 1 complaint reported by coworking space owners and members is people talking loudly on their phone or using their phone in quiet zones. Keep the peace by keeping conversations quiet, brief and in designated areas. Many coworking spaces offer phone booths or rooms, but if that’s not an option, simply step into the hallway or outside.

• Scouts Honor: The Boy Scouts of America abide by the “Outdoor Code.” Scouts are taught the four C’s: Clean, careful, considerate and conservation-minded. This is of course geared toward being in outdoor spaces but also works for a coworking space. Clean up after yourself (especially in common areas, such as shared tables, meeting rooms, the kitchen or coffee station). The careful portion in the Boy Scouts code has to do with preventing fire and leaving no evidence of fire, so let’s assume you aren’t setting fires (literal or figurative) and boil that down to leaving no evidence of having been in common spaces. Be considerate of others and respect them and the property. Finally, don’t be wasteful with the items provided by the space owners and management, which can mean everything from conserving energy and water to going easy on the snacks and beverages.

• Sharing is Caring, But … It’s a coworking space, so naturally there is an atmosphere of collaboration and perhaps even sharing and borrowing resources and tools. That said, don’t be the person who never has basic items, such as pens and paper. Bring your own supplies. Many spaces offer lockers so you don’t have to haul items around all the time.

• Sugar and Spice: Be friendly and kind.

• Social Network: Coworking spaces are places to mix, mingle and work with others you might not normally encounter. Be sure to take advantage of the connections offered through your coworking space. Also, give shoutouts to your favorite coworking spaces on social media and talk them up to colleagues, friends and clients to get a little good karma out there for your space and help them get new members.

 Coworking spaces aren’t for everyone, but those who use them report high levels of satisfaction, productivity and well-being. The Harvard Business Review says people who belong to coworking spaces “report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices.”

The HBR’s studies indicate people who cowork thrive because they “have substantial autonomy and can be themselves at work.” Who doesn’t want to work in a place where you can be yourself? Just be sure you are tapping into your best self and not the loud, messy and crabby side. If you don’t want to give up those aspects of your personality for a few hours a day, perhaps a home office is a better option. 

Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of New Orleans Bride Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to

Categories: Hospitality, The Magazine