Coworking Glossary

Coworking Etiquette: Coworking Explained

Christoph Fahle
October 12, 2023
 min read

Coworking is a modern concept that has revolutionized the way we work. It involves sharing a workspace with other professionals, often from different industries, and can be a great way to foster creativity, collaboration, and networking. However, like any shared space, coworking spaces require a certain level of etiquette to ensure a harmonious and productive environment.

This comprehensive glossary article will delve into the various aspects of coworking etiquette, providing a detailed explanation of the key terms and concepts. Whether you're a coworking space owner, a freelancer considering joining a coworking space, or an employee whose company has adopted a coworking model, this glossary will provide you with a thorough understanding of what coworking etiquette entails.

Understanding Coworking

Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared workspace, often an office, where individuals and companies can rent desks or offices. It's an alternative to traditional office environments, offering flexibility and opportunities for collaboration and networking. Coworking spaces often provide amenities like meeting rooms, kitchens, and lounges, creating a community-oriented environment.

While coworking spaces are commonly used by freelancers, startups, and small businesses, larger corporations are increasingly adopting the coworking model. This shift is driven by the benefits of coworking, which include cost savings, increased productivity, and improved employee satisfaction.

History of Coworking

The concept of coworking was first introduced in 2005 by Brad Neuberg, a software engineer who wanted to create a space that combined the independence of freelancing with the community and structure of an office. The first official coworking space, called the San Francisco Coworking Space, was located in the Spiral Muse building in San Francisco.

Since then, coworking has grown exponentially, with thousands of coworking spaces now operating worldwide. The growth of coworking has been fueled by the rise of the gig economy, technological advancements that enable remote work, and a growing emphasis on workplace flexibility and collaboration.

Key Principles of Coworking Etiquette

Coworking etiquette refers to the norms and behaviors that are expected in a coworking space. These norms are often unwritten, but they play a crucial role in maintaining a positive and productive coworking environment. While specific etiquette rules may vary from space to space, there are several key principles that are generally applicable.

These principles include respect for others' space and privacy, cleanliness, noise management, and consideration for others' schedules and work styles. By adhering to these principles, members of a coworking space can contribute to a harmonious and productive environment.

Respect for Space and Privacy

In a coworking space, respecting others' space and privacy is paramount. This means not encroaching on others' desk space, not touching others' belongings without permission, and not interrupting others when they're clearly busy or wearing headphones. It's also important to be mindful of how your actions, such as loud phone conversations or strong-smelling food, might affect others in the space.

Privacy is also a key concern in coworking spaces, especially given the diverse range of businesses and professionals that use them. It's important to respect others' privacy by not prying into their work or personal matters, not eavesdropping on conversations, and not sharing sensitive information about others without their consent.


Cleanliness is another fundamental aspect of coworking etiquette. This involves cleaning up after yourself, whether it's in the kitchen, the bathroom, or at your desk. It also means respecting the shared amenities and equipment, such as printers and coffee machines, and reporting any issues or damages to the coworking space staff.

Keeping the coworking space clean not only contributes to a pleasant and professional environment, but it also shows respect for the other members of the space. It's a simple yet powerful way to foster a sense of community and mutual respect.

Communication in Coworking Spaces

Effective communication is crucial in a coworking space. This involves both verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as digital communication through platforms like Slack or email. Good communication helps to prevent misunderstandings, foster collaboration, and maintain a positive coworking environment.

When communicating in a coworking space, it's important to be clear, respectful, and considerate. This means listening as much as speaking, being mindful of others' perspectives, and being open to feedback. It also means being aware of non-verbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice, and adjusting your communication style accordingly.

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Verbal communication in a coworking space involves not only what you say, but also how you say it. It's important to speak clearly and respectfully, and to avoid using offensive or inappropriate language. It's also important to be mindful of your volume, especially when having phone conversations or meetings in shared spaces.

Non-verbal communication is equally important in a coworking space. This includes body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues that can convey messages or emotions. For example, wearing headphones is often a non-verbal signal that someone is busy and doesn't want to be disturbed. Being aware of these non-verbal cues can help to prevent misunderstandings and foster a more harmonious coworking environment.

Digital Communication

Digital communication is a key part of coworking, especially given the prevalence of remote work and digital tools. This can involve communication through email, Slack, or other digital platforms, as well as the use of shared documents and calendars. Digital communication requires clarity, respect, and consideration, just like face-to-face communication.

When communicating digitally in a coworking space, it's important to be clear and concise, to avoid using all caps or excessive exclamation marks, and to respond to messages in a timely manner. It's also important to respect others' digital space, by not spamming them with unnecessary messages or emails, and by being mindful of their time and attention.

Networking and Collaboration in Coworking Spaces

One of the key benefits of coworking spaces is the opportunity for networking and collaboration. These spaces bring together a diverse range of professionals, creating a rich environment for learning, sharing, and collaboration. However, networking and collaboration in coworking spaces require a certain level of etiquette to ensure a positive and productive experience for all members.

Networking etiquette in coworking spaces involves being genuine, respectful, and considerate. It's about building authentic relationships, not just collecting business cards. Collaboration etiquette, on the other hand, involves clear communication, mutual respect, and shared responsibility. It's about working together to achieve a common goal, while respecting each other's ideas, time, and contributions.

Networking Etiquette

Networking in a coworking space is about building genuine relationships with other members. This involves getting to know them on a personal level, not just a professional level. It's about showing genuine interest in their work and their ideas, and offering help or support where you can.

Networking etiquette also involves respect and consideration. This means not pushing your services or products on others, not interrupting others when they're busy, and not using networking as an excuse to invade others' privacy. It's about building relationships based on mutual respect and genuine interest, rather than self-interest.

Collaboration Etiquette

Collaboration in a coworking space involves working together with other members to achieve a common goal. This can involve joint projects, brainstorming sessions, or simply sharing ideas and feedback. Collaboration etiquette involves clear communication, mutual respect, and shared responsibility.

When collaborating in a coworking space, it's important to communicate clearly and respectfully, to listen to others' ideas and feedback, and to share the workload fairly. It's also important to respect others' time and contributions, and to give credit where credit is due. Collaboration is a two-way street, and it requires a certain level of etiquette to ensure a positive and productive experience for all parties involved.

Handling Conflicts in Coworking Spaces

Like any shared space, coworking spaces can sometimes be a breeding ground for conflicts. These conflicts can arise from a variety of issues, such as noise levels, cleanliness, or disagreements over shared resources. However, with the right approach and etiquette, these conflicts can be resolved effectively and amicably.

Conflict resolution in coworking spaces involves clear communication, empathy, and compromise. It's about addressing issues directly and respectfully, understanding others' perspectives, and finding a solution that works for all parties involved. It also involves knowing when to involve the coworking space staff or management, who can provide mediation and support if needed.

Direct and Respectful Communication

When a conflict arises in a coworking space, the first step is to address it directly and respectfully. This involves speaking to the person or people involved, explaining your concerns clearly and calmly, and listening to their perspective. It's important to avoid personal attacks or blame, and to focus on the issue at hand.

Direct and respectful communication also involves being open to feedback and willing to compromise. It's about finding a solution that works for all parties involved, not just for yourself. This can involve adjusting your behavior, finding a compromise, or seeking a third-party solution, such as using headphones to block out noise or scheduling meetings at a time that works for everyone.

Empathy and Understanding

Empathy and understanding are crucial in resolving conflicts in coworking spaces. This involves putting yourself in the other person's shoes, trying to understand their perspective, and showing empathy for their feelings and concerns. It's about recognizing that everyone has different needs and work styles, and that what works for you might not work for others.

Empathy and understanding also involve being patient and forgiving. Conflicts can often be resolved with a simple apology or a willingness to change. It's about recognizing that everyone makes mistakes, and that a single conflict doesn't define a person or their behavior. By showing empathy and understanding, you can help to defuse conflicts and foster a more harmonious coworking environment.


Coworking etiquette is a crucial aspect of the coworking experience, ensuring a harmonious and productive environment for all members. By understanding and adhering to the key principles of coworking etiquette, you can contribute to a positive coworking community and make the most of your coworking experience.

Whether you're a coworking space owner, a freelancer, or an employee in a coworking space, this comprehensive glossary provides a thorough understanding of coworking etiquette. It serves as a guide to navigating the coworking world, fostering positive relationships, and achieving your professional goals in a coworking environment.

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Maria Gomez
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