Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Open-plan working: the good, the bad and the ugly

By Supplied Time of article published May 11, 2019

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CAPE TOWN – If you work in an open-plan office or co-working space, you no doubt vent to friends and family about the annoying habits you wish your office mates didn’t do.

Or perhaps you’re the perpetrator, but you aren’t even aware of it.

David Seinker, founder and chief executive of popular co-working space, The Business Exchange, shares his tips on what not to do in shared spaces… plus a couple of things you should do.

Don’t assume that everyone is there for a good time

One of the highlights of being a member of a co-working spaces is that there is an opportunity to mingle and potentially make friends. Many co-working spaces market the fact that there’s an office bar, a foosball table, some bean bags to kick back on, etc. And yes, these things are great and they seem cool and make for a great time at the office. But it’s important to keep in mind that almost everyone in that space is hustling and working hard to make a living and grow their business. Don’t join a space assuming that they are all there to shoot the breeze. At The Business Exchange especially, members are more serious and aren’t all that interested in socialising during working hours.  

Don’t spam fellow members

It’s very exciting to be part of a new community, especially one with like-minded people, so you may feel the urge to spam your fellow members with emails about what you do and questions about what they do. Any good co-working space will have regular networking sessions where you can get to know your peers. Use these as your catch-up sessions or even have some quick chats during your coffee breaks, but don’t spam their inboxes unless you have previously chatted to them about it.

Don’t be messy

It’s great to feel independent and as though you are working on your own, but you still have to be aware of the fact that you are sharing the space with other people. Leaving your workstation in a state and coffee mugs on your desk for days on end will deter people from wanting to work near you. Also, clean up after yourself in the kitchen and if you have lunch in the fridge, don’t leave it there for a month until it starts sprouting its own ecosystem.

Use your inside voice

People are trying to get a lot of hard work done, so shouting across the room to your friend or business partner may disrupt the peace a bit. Keep your voice level low and if you need the attention of someone on the other side of the room, walk over to them to say what you need to say.

Keep your bad habits in check

Like to slurp your coffee? Got a case of the sniffles? Chew your nails and spit them out? Yeah, these are bad habits that no one wants from the person sitting next to them. Drink your coffee when it’s cooler, keep tissues at your desk, and just try not to bite your nails. Avoiding these habits will save you a fair bit of resentment from your peers.

Attend networking sessions

Networking sessions are excellent opportunities to get to know other members in your space. At The Business Exchange, these are held on a regular basis so that people can mingle and potentially make connections that could benefit their business.

Conduct meetings from the meeting rooms

The various meeting rooms in a co-working space or open-plan office are there for a reason: use them. It’s sometimes more professional to invite a client to a meeting at a professional office space in a prime business location than to ask them to meet you at the coffee shop down the road. The use of meeting rooms is often included in most membership tiers at co-working spaces.


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