The 5 Deadly Sins that will Zap Productivity in Coworking Spaces

The uptick in coworking spaces, though on hold temporarily due to Coronavirus, is evidence of the natural desire of most humans to be sociable. The Classical Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as to not need to; and therefore, does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.”

Many people work remotely and independently thanks to technological advances. Real estate agents are making use of real estate virtual tours, and group meetings, corporate board meetings and many aspects of the legal profession can be convened through various meeting sites like Zoom. Things in all industries are changing. 

This allows people to work from any location that has good Internet connectivity. You can still have virtual one-on-one meetings. Working from home may seem like an ideal situation; no commute, no dry-cleaning bill, no exorbitant lunch costs, but as Aristotle aptly stated, we are social animals, and living and working in isolation takes a toll on our productivity.

Coworking is a way to increase productivity without the cost and maintenance of buying or renting real estate, like Cleaning & Maid Service fees. You can even get coworking software to easily manage your coworking space. In a coworking environment, one reserves the type of space needed and simply arrives to a spot that is conducive to work yet provides a feeling of community.

Whether you’re navigating a space in a busy Chicago neighborhood or a peaceful suburban area, there are, however, some issues that have arisen that are unique to coworking spaces. Here are five pertinent points that will allow you to increase your productivity without antagonizing fellow coworkers.

Schedules and Routines

There will always be days that are not normal. If you have a new baby or young child at home, you may spend a night with little to no sleep. No one expects you to engage in work activities at full speed the next day. At a coworking site, you have the option to come in later than usual because your schedule is under your control. For maximum productivity, however, you should set a predetermined schedule and stick to it. We all have an internal clock that tells us when to eat, sleep, and be active throughout a 24-hour period. Circadian rhythms are easily disrupted but by paying attention to your own highs and lows during a day you can easily determine when you are most productive. By syncing your work schedule to your circadian rhythm, you increase your productivity with less fatigue. This has been proven in many studies, including one conducted by NASA.

We Are Social 

Coworking spaces afford you the chance to work at your own business without working in a vacuum. It is comforting to be a part of a community of like-minded people. The thing you must remember in a coworking environment is regardless of the informality of the space it remains a workplace.  After you become accustomed to your workplace you may notice that people gather in the lunch area to chat or socialize. 

This is acceptable because the lunch area is considered a break room. When people are at their work stations they may acknowledge someone who sits near them with a quick wave or nod, but work areas are not the place to hold protracted conversations. Although many people in coworking environments wear noise-canceling headphones it can still be distracting to have coworkers talking and gesticulating, as one does during a conversation. If you need to converse take it outside the workroom. This applies to phone conversations as well.

To Sell or Not to Sell?

You are starting a new business and it seems there are so many people in the coworking space that you could share your exuberance with. These are people outside your company, and you think, “Aha, potential contacts.” Here is the absolute rule about selling to coworking office mates: Don’t do it. If someone asks about your work, it is perfectly acceptable to explain your company and what you do but never “pitch” your coworking acquaintances. If someone is more than marginally interested in what you do, they will ask for more information. If they do not ask again, let it go.  


Food can be a touchy subject at a coworking space. Many people eat at their desks/tables because they do not want to waste time going out for lunch. If you are a neat, quiet eater and the food you eat is not too pungent, many coworking spaces allow you to eat while working. Each place will have its own guidelines and you should ask before you rent a space. Often a break or lunch room is provided by the owner of the space. If there are no suggested guidelines err on the side of politeness, just as you would wish others to do.

 A crunchy roll with salami and onions may taste delicious to you but errant crumbs and the lingering odor of onions may be offensive to someone else. Another thing to consider if eating at your desk is important is to ask if anyone has a life-threatening allergy to a food. The airborne oils in some foods like peanut butter can be enough to trigger anaphylactic shock in a person with a severe peanut allergy.

Do Not Take Advantage

Many coworking spaces provide their renters with beverages and snacks. This is a nice perk, but the basket of protein bars, cookies and candy are not meant as meal replacements. Do not indulge in more than your fair share of snacks and do not take these items home to nibble on later. 

If coffee is provided in a machine that is not a single serving device, please wash the pot out if you drink the last cup and start another pot. Your coworkers will appreciate the gesture. If people keep their personal non-disposable cups in a cupboard do not use them. When non-disposable cups are provided by the coworking space make sure you wash yours when you are finished using it. 

Often a coworking space will have office equipment, like printers, available for renters to use. Remember to replace paper if you use the last sheet and do not leave your trash laying around. 

A coworking space can be an enjoyable, stress free location to maintain a productive and successful work day. This type of environment should be treated with the same respect for property and other people that you would reserve for working in a library. Professionalism in your habits, along with consideration for other workers will create a place you enjoy going to. 

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