The growing trend towards co-working office space, or shared office space, has been boosted by the introduction of new technologies as well as the desire of vibrant entrepreneurs to work from an affordable and professional office environment, where they can benefit from interactions with other like-minded business people.
As a tenant of this type of office space, you are obviously not able to choose whom you share an open office with, and depending on your work ethos, it may take you some time to adjust to your new neighbours – especially if they are unaware of the negative effect they may be having on others around them. This can make this type of communal office model challenging.
Most challenges in a co-working office can be attributed to;
- An imbalance in perspectives about giving and taking in the community of tenants
- A lack of, or breakdown in, trust and communication between tenants
- The tenants becoming too comfortable with each other and taking advantage of one another
In terms of handling the various challenges that may arise in a co-working office space from time to time, these seem to be the most prevalent and are quite often easily dealt with by keeping one’s emotions in check and maintaining open channels of communication;
Distractions in an Open Office Space
Noise and activity, although expected, can be very distracting to some people in an open plan office if it becomes excessive. Unusually loud conversations conducted between colleagues or over the phone should preferably be moved outside or to a private meeting room, so as to cause minimal disruption to others in your co-working office space.
Mess in Communal Office Areas
Unfortunately, not everyone may be as neat as you and people often fail to clean up after themselves. While most companies who rent out office space, such as The Business Exchange, employ office cleaners to keep the premises clean and tidy, there may be times that the mess left in the kitchen by one of your co-workers, or their untidy office desk just gets too much.
Cultural Values and Manners
In our melting pot of cultures, an action that may seem perfectly reasonable to one person may seem insensitive and rude to another. This is an ideal opportunity to communicate with each other about the perceived problem and to learn more about both cultures. However, a co-worker who, for example, constantly takes off their shoes and puts their feet up on the desk, may need some guidance in terms of manners!
Social Interactions in Shared Office Space
Due to its flexibility, co-working office spaces, which allow tenants to quickly take up rented office – or move out, it may be difficult to understand when you are intruding on a new co-worker’s workflow. Under these circumstances, it is best to be informed about formal networking times, until you understand your co-worker’s business process more thoroughly.
Another annoying factor that sometimes arises in a shared office environment, especially between co-workers who have been working together for a long time, might be the ease with which they borrow your office supplies or phone charger and not return them. In a case like this, a polite request to return the equipment in future may be required, or you may need to lock more valuable items up if you are away from your desk for long periods.
Overstaying Meeting Room Bookings
Another frequent annoyance for some companies who rent meeting rooms is when the host of the previous meeting overstays his/her booking. This is a typical example of when, as the tenant, you do not get involved but address the issue with the on-site Business Manager.
4 Tips for Handling Conflict in a Co-Working Office Space
- Keep your emotions under control
- Ensure that you have all the correct facts to evaluate how big the issue really is
- Decide if you can manage it yourself without having to escalate it to the on-site Business Manager
- Discuss it with the relevant person and give them your perspective, then ask for and suggest your own solutions to come to a mutually agreed compromise.
These tips all point to how important it is to create a healthy culture within the tenant community, which is something that The Business Exchange has managed to successfully create within its own business centres in Sandton, Rosebank and Rivonia.
David Seinker, CEO of The Business Exchange, says, “A healthy culture of open communication within our tenant community has enabled our tenants to find common ground with each other and we have found that there are very few issues that cannot be resolved when you have this culture present.”
Tenants of The Business Exchange manage to sort out most problems with each other if they arise, but they also have a level of comfort in being able to take any major concerns to the Manager of the relevant business centre. “If our tenants are feeling uncomfortable or are experiencing a constant problem, our Business Centre Managers are always more than happy to assist with resolving the issue at hand,” says Seinker. “If you build the right kind of culture in a shared workspace, the tenant community will make it work because they are happy there and want the status quo maintained.”
At the end of the day, the fundamental rule for all co-workers sharing office space is to be considerate of others. This means not doing something in the open office environment which may annoy or irritate others sharing the same space with you.