How to Work Efficiently in Coworking Spaces

December 15, 2015

4:39 pm

With the concurrent rising of remote work, rapidly increasing freelance economy, and perpetual interest the startup life, it’s no wonder that the coworking industry is booming. This past summer, WeWork – one of the top names in the space – doubled its valuation to a whopping $10 billion after having raised a $400 million round. Elsewhere, coworking spaces pop-up to serve the needs of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and startup teams.

Despite their popularity, though, many people have questioned the actual level of productivity that can be achieved at coworking spaces. Working from any office can often pose many distractions, but the open-office layout that accompanies many coworking spaces can provide additional detriments to productivity. Your productivity level doesn’t have to decrease when operating out of a coworking space though. And, while the temptation of working from home full-time sounds alluring, working out of a coworking space could be better overall for your mental health – plus, there are a lot of benefits that come from networking with the people around you.

So how do you work more efficiently out of that coworking space? We reached to a few people, and this is what they had to say:

Set Up a Proper Workstation

“Set up a real work station. Look for opportunities to rent a desk or a pod that you can call your own. It makes it easier to come to ‘work’ if your work station feels like yours, family photos and all.” – Alena Bowen, Content Director at The Dialog Lab

But, Seriously, a Full Setup

“Everyone should be set up with two monitors, a keyboard, and mouse. A huge benefit of working in a coworking space is that you can set up a desktop-like environment. Most good spaces are secure and people will not steal your stuff, and some spaces even provide these as part of the package. I think a proper environment is key because you should not be constrained to just working on your laptop. I find that when I have these aspects set up, I can work so much more efficiently than on my small 13-inch laptop. Two large screens, a large keyboard, and a mouse will do wonders for your productivity (especially for software developers like me!) The thing that always confused me is when people only have their laptop on their desk. Why even get a co-working space then? You might as well save money and work in a coffee shop.” – Lingke Wang, Cofounder of Ovid

Invest in Good Headphones; Consider a Headset

“I split time between working out of a coworking space and out of the home and the best tip I can offer is get a good set of closed, over-ear headphones. I also recommend a good clip-on mic if you are going to be doing any video or audio calls. I can’t concentrate with a dozen discussions, calls, and meetings going on around me, so I usually have an ambient music playlist going to help me focus.” – Jason Ephraim, VP of Growth of Mailbird

Benchmark Accordingly

“Especially if you are founding a company, there are a lot of people in a coworking space that come everyday at 9 and leave everyday by 5. If you are founding a company, your hours won’t look like that. It is tempting to compare yourself to the others and copy their hours and habits. Don’t. Be careful to only benchmark yourself on those that are truly doing the same things you are.” – Steve Feiner, CEO and Cofounder of A Better Florist

Don’t Be Shy: Talk to People

“Sometimes people don’t talk much. Coworking community has an ebb and flow, and it’s possible that people occupy a space and never talk to anybody. In general, though, they’re there to meet people, so don’t feel like you can never approach them. Its a huge waste to never meet people in the space.” – Kevin Galligan, President of Touch Lab

Share in Your Pain

“Coworking spaces provide daily opportunities to catalyze an entrepreneur’s business. Sharing something as simple as pain points can lead to brainstorming sessions over lunch and shed a new perspective on an old hurdle.” –  Noramay Cadena, Cofounder and General Manager of Make in LA

Be Helpful to Your Neighbors

“Be friendly and helpful to your neighbors – lend them ​supplies and schedule informal coffee catch-ups to find out more about their businesses. Everyone is a gateway to a broader network, even if your co-working neighbor isn’t directly relevant. We’ve had people offer us new biz introductions and referrals because we took the time to ​get to know them.” –  Hannah Gandevia, Senior Strategist at Praytell

Ask for Help When You Need It

“Ask for help! Few people can run a business all on their own. Successful business owners surround themselves with experts outside of their own skill-set in order to grow. This happens all the time in a coworking space, where there’s a good chance you can get (free) help in all facets of your business, be it financial, sales, marketing, or legal – and vice-versa. What’s great is that this type of networking happens organically because you’re all in the same space…so no 30-second elevator pitches or superficial business card trading is needed.” –  Jason Wong is the Cofounder of Beta Collective

Move Away from the Distractions

“The biggest tip I have about working in a coworking space is to find a place you can go to get away from distractions. The best part of a coworking space is getting to interact with the other startups, but this can also be a big distraction as other companies do the same. When you just need to get stuff done you’ll need a spot you can go to in your coworking space to just get away from it all.” – Sean Higgins, Cofounder of ilos

Take Advantage of Private Spaces

“Our current home base is a New York City WeWork and while we love the collaborative environment, it can get a bit distracting at times. If you want to work efficiently in a co-working space, I’d suggest taking advantage of the private rooms as often as you can for meetings. Make sure you book these spaces well in advance, with enough leeway so that you have ample meeting time. More importantly, you should invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones and a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for times when you simply need to keep your head down to finish your projects.” – Bart Mroz, CEO of SUMO Heavy

Keep Track of Time

“One thing that I’ve noticed over the time that I’ve spent working at my co-workers office is that as people become better acquainted and develop friendships, it becomes easier to lose track of time. I think that while this is very important, it’s best to keep in mind that you/your company is paying for your time at this office.” – Adam Busch, SEO Specialist at RentLingo

Tech.Co has partnered with Arlington Economic Development to bring you this story. For more in this sponsored series: AED ecosystem. Here are more ways to avoid distraction and try to increase your productivity – you know, if you need some additional ways to get work done out of your coworking space.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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