You’ve done your research, you booked your place, you're all hyped up and can’t wait to work alongside awesome people in a new and inspiring coworking environment. Yet, you're also kind of nervous about what to expect and how to get the most out of your experience. That’s exactly why we prepared this quick-hits guide. Check out our Beginner's Guide to Coworking to feel right at home on your very first day and set yourself up for long-term success.
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is sure to be a failure.” - Confucius. These wise words from the Chinese philosopher hold true for almost anything in life, and the same applies to coworking. Sharing workspace is great, but to get the most out of it there are a few tricks:
Invest in a decent laptop
Without a doubt, the most essential tool for your coworking life will be your laptop. You’ll be spending most of your time with it in the office and you’ll probably be carrying it around to your meetings and client visits. Ideally, you want it to be light and have great performance, and it doesn't hurt if it's also easy on the eyes. Sure, the latest MacBook Pro pairs well with your iPhone, but other options are also really good and are probably a lot cheaper. In the end, even a basic laptop may do the trick depending on your personal requirements, just be prepared for laptop envy over your fellow coworkers' latest model.
While we're on the subject, make sure your laptop’s fan and processors aren't annoyingly loud or so noisy that it will to annoy your new colleagues and make a bad first impression.
Get some soundproof headphones
As you’ll soon discover, your headphones will quickly become your best friends and one of the most important tools in your coworking space. They help you to focus and avoid distractions in two ways: First, they protect yourself from the noise level around you when people make calls, chat or anything else. Second, they're like a giant red sign signaling “DO NOT DISTURB”. “Headphones on” indicates to others that you are “in the zone”, working efficiently and, while you really like your new friends, you wish to be left in peace at that moment.
Awesome Laptop, Cool Headphones, Access Card & Mug - All you need for Coworking
Don’t overthink the dress code
Coworking brings in great diversity in regards to culture, industry and job function. Usually, it's a very relaxed place with no official dress codes. Some people come in with fancy shirts every day while others stick to the cool and classic jeans and t-shirt look. Thus, don’t worry too much about what you’re going to wear. Just be yourself...well, be your "work" self, not your "hungover in sweatpants all day" self.
If you really can’t sleep because you worry about getting the right dress code right, simply go to your coworker's website or Facebook page and you’ll notice that it’s full of normal people wearing normal clothes. Weirdo.
The First Day
“Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth.” - Mike Tyson. Luckily, nobody is going to punch you in the face in your new coworking space so you can stick to your initial plan, at least on day one. If they do, you chose the wrong place to work. Here are a few tips to include for your first-day strategy to feel at “home” quickly:
Find the best spot
When you start in a shared space, you’ll want to find your optimal location as soon as possible. Take advantage of the freedom and flexibility of coworking, especially if you're hotdesking, to move around and test out different spots. Some things to look out for are the level of light, noise, social interaction and comfort. Don't forget to account for the change in seasons. A spot near the A/C may sound great for the summer months, but you might end up colder than planned if it's blasting on your neck for 8 hours a day.
In the end, what’s best for you depends on your personality and professional requirements. Some people like the shared space, while others swear that the lounge is the place to be. Many prefer to just wander around all the time to get new views and boost creativity. One of my favorite spots at OneCoWork is the couch in the personal desk room. It's still quiet and fairly private, but I feel like I'm lounging on the bow of a ship heading out to sea.
If you don’t hit the jackpot from the start, don’t worry. The beauty of coworking is that you can always change your surroundings.
Comfort + Great View = My favorite spot for creative work at OneCoWork
Discover where to get food and drinks
Just like a brand new Tesla Roadster, we all need to recharge our batteries regularly to stay at the top of our game. Whether you’re into coffee, tea or just water. Make sure you know where magic stuff can be found so you can get your fix in the morning and a quick boost throughout the day. At the same time, investigate the snack and lunch options in and around your coworking space. A great way to find hidden gems at a decent price is to ask your colleagues for their favorite food places. If you prefer eating your own healthy home-cooked stuff instead, make sure you know where you can find the fridge, microwave and cutlery, and also take note of the best times to avoid a crowded kitchen.
Quick note: your new coworking space is not your mom's house and, unless she's dropping by to clean up after you, it's proper etiquette to keep tidy at all times. And, no matter what happens, don't ever, ever microwave fish. Ever.
Not sure about what your best lunch choice should look like? Too many fibers, having a large food bowl for lunch or rather something small? Find out more here.
Whether you are a quiet introvert or an expert-level socialite, make an effort on Day 1 to get to know your colleagues. Be proactive and introduce yourself to the people you run into in the common areas, especially during lunch. In short, never eat alone (hmmm, that would be a good book title...)
Remember, other people might be shy too, so don’t wait for them to approach you because that will inevitably lead to this awkward encounter when you're finally introduced to someone you’ve been seeing every day for over a year. Keep in mind, the faster you get out to meet people, the faster you'll build relationships and feel “at home”.
Pro tip: One of the most overlooked benefits of coworking is client referrals. The more people that know your name and your area of expertise, the more likely they are to refer you new business. So put yourself out there and make some new friends, newbie!
Make a name map
It's happened to all of us. You arrive at a new place and get introduced to about 10 people in 60 seconds, You introduce yourself and they say their names, but the moment you walk away you don't remember any of them. It’s easy to get overwhelmed on your first day, especially when you’re also dealing with a new place that you don’t quite know your way around yet. Luckily, there are some very easy tricks to never forget a name again. My personal favorite when it comes to workplace, meetings or workshops is to simply create a name map. Just draw up the desk structure and mark each seat with the corresponding name. It’s very easy, but it will help you avoid that awkward moment when asking Julia her name for the third time in four days.
Simple but effective - A name map really helps to remember names
Most coworking spaces offer many great opportunities for networking. Whether it's over beers at the weekly happy hour, during an organized workshop, or just a casual lunch group that formed one day, coworking is certainly a magnet for meeting a lot of new people very easily. Of course, not all people love socializing and you still need to get your work done, but take advantage of these opportunities in the first few weeks to get to know a lot of people and identify the ones you're most comfortable with. Also, don’t underestimate the potential of forming great business opportunities and synergies your new contacts.
Pro tip: Ask open-ended questions. In general, people love to talk about themselves, so give them your genuine interest and they'll remember you for it.
Need something? Just ask
It’s your first day in a new coworking space and you’re paying a fair amount of money for it. There is no need to be shy or feel bad about asking lots of questions, even if you might think some of them can sound dumb or odd. There is no better way to get familiar in a new place than to explore it by asking questions to help you clear any doubts and feel more comfortable.
The cool thing about coworking is that you get to meet lots of fantastic people with amazing backgrounds, talents and personalities, especially in an international city like Barcelona. So don't hide your own personality, just be yourself. This will allow the coworking community to truly blossom and people will love you for that. If not, the place is probably not the right co-working space for you anyway and it might be wise to explore other locations until you find the right one.
As you can see, to get the most out of your new shared space experience you don’t need to do too much. Get your basic tools ready like a quality laptop and headphones. Become familiar with the new space and find your favorite spot. Be active and introduce yourself to others to meet people, especially in the first month, and take advantage of the social vibe of coworking. And above all, simply be yourself the rest will fall into place.