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Big Ideas

The 5 Behaviors That Make You a Coworking Space Pro

Take advantage of your new "office" by changing environments often (even outside) to increase the likelihood of the random collaboration.

The nature of the American workforce is rapidly changing, with more of us telecommuting or starting businesses out of our homes than ever before. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s been a recent surge in people taking up residency in coworking spaces.

Still, coworking might be an unfamiliar concept for many, and may be intimidating if you’re used to the office life (or, even better, the work­ in ­your ­pjs ­all ­day ­at ­home life). But it’s fast become a true microcosm
 of a new way of working and, perhaps more importantly, living. Step into a coworking space and you’ll find yourself mixed in between freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers, each one navigating the workforce in a unique way.

At Grind, a coworking space with locations in Manhattan and Chicago, we’ve created an environment that fosters productivity, serenity, and, most prominently, collaboration. And if there’s anything we’ve learned throughout the process of facilitating effective coworking and collaboration, it’s that there’s a real art to working effectively and efficiently with others. The ideas are simple a​nd if put to use, they can lead to incredible outcomes whether you’re trying coworking for the first time or are looking to be more inclusive at your office.

1. Get to know thy neighbor

Let’s face it: “p​ersonal space” is a notion that pervades our culture. God forbid you brush knees with the stranger on the subway or strike up a conversation with the guy standing in line at the market with you. We’re living in a world in which “minding your business” is the holy grail. But what if we all pushed those boundaries? If not out in the world, we can at least be more open and friendly at work. We like to think it could lead to something amazing.

Put yourself out there and attend networking events, approach coworkers, talk to the stranger at the coffee bar­­—y​ou’ll be surprised by the results. Working out of a coworking space is a particularly easy, natural way to meet new people every day.

Your instinct will be to keep to yourself, but try something different. Make sure not to distract your neighbors,​ but also make a point of introducing yourself to your tablemates. We’ve had a staggering number of companies birthed between unacquainted members who struck up conversation one day. And don’t limit your boldness to the coworking space…go ahead and introduce yourself to your seatmate on the train or plane. You might be surprised by how happy people are to have spontaneous interactions with strangers.

We’ve had a staggering number of companies birthed between unacquainted members who struck up conversation one day.

2. Keep an open mind

Entering any situation with lofty expectations can be dangerous, but this is especially the case in the world of collaborating. While it’s important to set goals, make sure to stay open to new (and sometimes scary) ideas. True success comes when we are open to uncertainty.

You’re going to be faced with people from various industries and levels of expertise​—don’t let yourself miss out on their advice and unique perspective because you’re too caught up in your own vision.

When you first meet someone, check your ego and judgment at the door. Approach the situation with clear eyes, an open mind, and a willingness to learn. Effective collaboration stems from respect and honesty, which can only be achieved sans preconceived notions.

3. Don’t be Intimidated

Coworking spaces are filled with ambitious, motivated, smart people­­. But don’t let their level of intellect or experience scare you. Instead, take it as an opportunity to learn from the best and brightest. 

In order to make the most of these resources, assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Understand what you bring to the table, where you need help, and what you want out of your interactions with your coworkers. Often, experienced entrepreneurs are actually eager to get the fresh input of those with less business acumen. Diversity of intellect and success will only increase your odds of a synergistic collaboration.

4. Ask for Help

Once you’ve mastered the art of self-­a​wareness in the previous steps, convince yourself that it’s good to ask for help. You’re not going to be an expert in every area. Most times, your peers will be pleased to dole out advice. And never underestimate the power of mentorship. If you find someone you look up to professionally, utilize their skills and experience. Odds are, they’ll be pleased to share what they know with you.

Be as specific as possible about your needs and the level of commitment you need from someone else when asking for help. “I need a programmer” isn’t as useful as “I need a Python programmer.” We’re always thrilled when a member asks us to connect them to a fellow member with a particular set of skills.​ Not only does it help us get a better feel for the needs of our members, but it also helps to build a stronger community.

5. Change Environments. Often.

We are creatures of habit, and many of us tend to plop down in the same seat every day. Given the opportunity to sit somewhere new every day (as you are in a coworking space), try to do so (a​t least for your first couple of weeks there). Not only will it inspire creativity and new ideas, but it will also increase your chances of meeting at least one new person every day.

Getting out of your workspace occasionally is just as important as moving around within it. Work out of a public park or at home a few times a month­​­. Changing up your environment will keep you happy, productive, and ripe for collaboration. 

How about you?

Do you utilize a coworking space? Any advice for first timers?

Comments (9)
  • Freelancer Web Designer

    Thanks a lot for sharing the post………………..,

    Freelance Web Designer in Hyderabad,Greenland,Pakisthan,America,Coulumbia

  • jarajoro

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  • Tess

    Great article, it explains quite clearly all the benefits one can get from working in a coworking space -and there are many! For first timers, my advice would be if you have the opportunity: try several coworking spaces! All are unique in one way or the other therefore not all will suit you. Here’s an other article which sums up the different options one will most likely find in a coworking space, which might be helpful as well:

  • Happy Collaboration

    Put your business needs up for competitive bid. Start collaborating with local businesses to showcase your service and acquire new clients –

  • dccrowley

    cool post Cassidy, I hope to use coworking spaces more next year. Useful tips thanks

  • Taylor

    Having done the tour of spaces in Denver this past summer, I can say your list is spot on.

    For any other Denver-based folks that want to jump in, start here

  • Bill Hibbler

    Great tips, Cassidy! The ‘mind your own business’ being the holy grail is unfortunately true and I’ve been guilty of it myself.

    I toured a dozen different co-working spaces here in Austin. If you’re looking for a space, most will allow you a free day or free half-day to try them on for size. I recommend taking advantage of that and find the one that works best for you.

  • Billgreen54

    Cassidy, Your article really hit home. Larisa and I are starting a new co-working center in Nikolaev Ukraine. In Ukraine, Life is truly an adventure. I am posting a link here with information about our project, I hope it’s okay. We could use some help here.

  • Billgreen54

    Hey everyone! Goggles Coworking Center is open for business in Nikolaev Ukraine. The first coworking center in Nikolaev Ukraine. Lot’s of visitors. Join us on the 15th of February for our grand opening.

  • Janet West

    I feel we are coming out of the industrial mindset. Even after moving into new office spaces and wanting to change to a coworking friendly environment, it lasts for about 2 weeks. The desire is there for most companies, but the old habits and fears are also.

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