The Ultimate Guide to Coworking Spaces

Frank Festa

The first day at a coworking space can feel a bit like the first day of school. Will people be nice? Where will you eat lunch? Is that seat taken?

And while coworking spaces are designed to be comfortable spots that foster creativity and collaboration, it can still be a bit intimidating if you haven’t been to one before.

But even if you’re not nervous at all, it’s still good to know what you can expect when you arrive. This guide will answer all of your most pressing coworking questions so you’re confident and prepared for your first day.

Where Do I Go When I Arrive?

When you first arrive, you’ll need to check in with the community manager at the front desk. (Those people who just walk on by? They’re regulars.)

Let the community manager know how you booked — whether through an app or over the phone. Need to buy an all-day pass? They’ll arrange that for you.

Wait… What Exactly Is a Community Manager? 

The community manager will be your go-to person for questions, comments, concerns, and general information.

They’ll give you the Wi-Fi password, plan fun events for members, provide lunch recommendations and point you in the direction of the bathroom. (Community managers are basically your all-knowing coworking-space BFF.)

How Do I Know Where to Sit?

Trying to avoid a “you can’t sit with us” situation? Don’t worry — it’ll be pretty clear where it’s okay to sit — and where it isn’t — but we’ve got you covered just in case.

Here’s the lowdown on the seating situation at most coworking spaces:

  • Hot Desks — This is a ‘sit anywhere that’s open’ scenario. Find an open seat, set your laptop up and get to work! Keep in mind if you leave for lunch, you may need to find a different hot desk upon return. There’s no ‘seat saving’ or claiming a favorite desk as yours.
  • Dedicated Desks — Depending on your membership, you may have access to a dedicated desk. This is similar to having a designated cubicle or workspace at an office. You can leave for lunch and it’ll be waiting for you when you return. Ask about locks for drawers and filing cabinets.
  • Private Offices — Thinking about slipping into an open private office for a quick phone call? Don’t do it — unless you’ve paid for it. Offices are reserved for specific memberships but there are designated spots for privacy that all members can use. (See the phone booth section.)
  • Conference Rooms — These rooms are great for meetings, collaboration, interviews and more, but you’ll need to pay an additional fee to use them. You might be able to book conference rooms online or ask the community manager for rates and booking information at the front desk.

Is the Coffee Up for Grabs? What About the Snacks?

Yep! Most coworking spaces provide, at minimum, free coffee and water for your drinking pleasure. There might even be complimentary juice, tea, popcorn, and other snacks too, depending on the amenities provided at your coworking space.

You’ll normally be told if there’s an additional fee for food or drinks — otherwise, go for it!

What Is a Phone Booth — and What’s the Normal Etiquette?

When you need a private spot for a quick phone call or video meeting, head to the nearest open phone booth. Since phone booth availability is limited, general etiquette is to keep it to a maximum of 30 minutes.

Can I Hang Out in the Common Area?

You sure can. Common areas are just that — an open space where you’re welcome to hang out and get a change of scenery. Take advantage of the communal tables and chat with those around you. You just might make a new connection!

Can I Use the Printer? 

Need to print a resume or a report? Check with the community manager about rates. Some coworking spaces offer free printing services, while others make you pay to play.

Where Do I Eat Lunch?

Your coworking space should have a kitchen/break room where you can heat up meals and eat lunch. There may also be an outdoor area where you can get some fresh air while you eat. Ask your community manager about your options.

Should I Keep to Myself or Talk to Others?

That is totally up to you. Keep in mind that coworking spaces attract innovative entrepreneurs, creatives, freelancers and all-around cool people you might never have met otherwise.

So, feel free to strike up a conversation at the coffee machine or ask what someone is working on in the common area. You might find a new customer, learn about an amazing app that’ll make your life easier, or make a lifelong friend.

What’s the Deal With Those Social Events?

Community events are an amazing perk of coworking spaces — just ask Stephanie Riel, owner of RielDeal Marketing, who is thrilled with the events and perks at her coworking space.

“I just joined a coworking space in Scottsdale that offers monthly events for their members, plus discounts and special offers from local-area businesses. This includes nail salons, business services, and even fitness studios,” she said. “Talk about added value!”

Don’t be shy — take advantage of those happy hours with complimentary cocktails, lunch & learns with workshops taught by local experts and any other special events or discounts offered through your coworking space.

How Not to Be That Guy (Or Girl)

When in doubt, leave the shoes on, use headphones when listening to music, clean up after yourself, don’t hog the phone booths, and always use your inside voice.

Following these basic rules will ensure you’re a courteous coworker who everyone is happy to share a space with — whether you’re a newbie or a regular.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Tweet us at @UpflexApp we’ll be sure to reply!