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A Beginner’s Guide to Coworking: 5 tips to get started

beginner's guide to coworking
When you find the right community, it should feel like family.

Searching for the perfect coworking community can be as daunting as online dating– how do you find the right fit? In this beginner’s guide to coworking, you’ll get tips on how to find your community and how stay engaged once you are there.

1. Know your coworking needs.

Let’s just say, for the sake of analogy, that coworking is like dating. The first step in any successful relationship is to become intimate with yourself and your needs. Why are you looking for a coworking space? Do you need a convenient place to hold meetings? Hoping to make new friends and feel like you are part of something? Want to meet potential clients? Do you need a private space for lots of phone calls?

Just like dating, your coworking search will vary based on your desired end-result. If you’re looking for a fling with minimal emotional attachment, that process is very different from the search for a lifelong partner. Visit multiple spaces, and be upfront and honest about your needs when you tour. Hopefully, the space operators will return your honestly and let you know if you are a good fit.

2. Research membership options.

Most coworking spaces offer a variety of membership options. These will vary from space to space, but will most likely include some variation of:

  • Flex or hot desks: Open seating where you can set up anywhere for the day. These don’t typically include storage so you bring your stuff to and from work every day.
  • Dedicated desks: You rent your own desk space, which usually has a locked file cabinet or some storage.
  • Private offices: Some coworking spaces offer private offices. If it is important to you to have private space, make sure to ask about availability up front. If you can’t get a private office right away, consider joining to get connected with the community while you wait.
  • Drop-in or day passes: Most coworking spaces offer the option to drop in for a day, which can be great if you’re not sure how much you’ll use it. The downside of purchasing day passes is that you won’t be included in member communications, Slack channels, private events, etc.
  • Meeting room rentals: If you only need ta space to meet, some spaces will offer hourly meeting room rentals. Meeting rooms are often included in membership packages, so depending on how much you will use them, you may want to become a member.

You will also want to familiarize yourself with your coworking space’s membership terms. Most are month-to-month, but some require a deposit. Private offices sometimes require more time commitment.

beginner's guide to coworking- socializing in the space
Make sure to step away from your work every so often to socialize with other members.

3. Once you join, go all in.

Just like a relationship, coworking never goes well when you have one foot out the door. As the owner of a space, I can always tell when a new member won’t last– they don’t commit. You don’t have to marry your coworking space forever, but for 3 months or 6 months or whatever feels comfortable, go all in and see what happens.

You may find that you’ve developed certain habits from working at home. You’ll have to put in some effort to overcome that inertia. Get dressed. Go to your coworking space even if you don’t feel like it. Say hi to at least one new person every day. Yes, you’ll have to give up the freedom of blasting music in your pajamas, but remind yourself why you joined a space in the first place. Need some inspiration? Here’s what some introverts have to say about life at Groundwork.

It takes work to make space for something new in your life. If you don’t put the work in, you won’t get anything in return.

4. Observe, listen and learn from other members.

Ever go out on a date where the other person just talked and talked about themselves, but didn’t bother to listen to you? It’s not a recommended dating technique, and it’s not a great way to join a coworking space either.

Once you’re in there, spend some time observing how the community behaves. Hopefully your space will provide some written guidelines, but you can learn even more just by watching people interact. Do people take calls in the open space? Where are the best places for social interaction?

If all else fails, learn how to make the coffee. Nobody likes a person who leaves the pot empty. This small gesture will go a long way in creating positive relationships.

5. Participate in your coworking community!

Find ways to take part in the community that feel good to you. You don’t have to show up at every happy hour, but maybe you can contribute by doing a lunch and learn on your area of expertise. Perhaps you’ve got some great articles to share on Slack, or you enjoy helping to take care of the plants.

You’ll find most community-driven coworking spaces are open to member participation and will happily incorporate any suggestions you have. Find a way to bring a little piece of your genuine self into your coworking experience, and it will be much more rewarding.

I hope you enjoyed our beginner’s guide to coworking. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team.

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Sarah

Co-founder at Groundwork!
Sarah lived all over South America, produced a documentary about Patagonia, and worked in digital marketing for a decade before settling in New Bedford to start Groundwork! She loves running a coworking space because she gets to meet the coolest people in the world.
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