Well-being in a Coworking Space: 12 Tips for Professionals
Joining a coworking space is a fantastic way to grow your professional network, become part of a community of mutual support, and boost your productivity. But you have to find the right space and you have to create a coworking routine that enhances your well-being. Here are 12 tips to help.
1. Take regular breaks
Regardless of where you work, if you spend most of your day at a computer, it’s a good idea to take regular breaks to stretch, get the blood flowing, and rest your eyes. In coworking spaces, everyone has a different routine and work rhythm, so there aren’t obvious breaks in the action and it’s easy to spend too many hours in front of your screen. Get a timer app, use the Pomodoro time management method, go outside for quick walks around the block. Anything that offers regular breaks helps create a routine of well-being.
2. Protect your time
In a coworking space, there are a lot of opportunities to socialize, network, attend events, host events, get a meal or drinks, etc. Take advantage of all these great opportunities, but protect your work time, as well. To thrive in a coworking space, you need to be disciplined about your own time and be willing to say no to opportunities that come up that may pull you away from your own work.
3. Minimize multitasking
If you’re working in a coworking space or shared office, chances are good that you’re working for yourself or are part of a small team or startup. This means that you’re likely wearing a lot of hats and working on multiple projects. Multitasking used to be celebrated and considered a desirable quality, but research now shows that only 2 percent of the population is actually proficient at multitasking and that shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time. Minimize the amount of multitasking you do by turning off email and social media notifications and giving your full attention to the task at hand.
4. Bring headphones
Wearing headphones in a coworking space is the universal “do not disturb” signal. The earbuds that come with your phone work for this, but they can be easy for people to overlook. A pair of over-the-ear headphones will let you tune into your favorite songs for a quick pick-me-up, tune out some of the noise if the space gets too loud for your taste, or signal to your coworking neighbors that you need some heads-down time.
5. Don’t fall into a seating rut
Humans tend to be creatures of habit—we find something we like and we return to it again and again. In a coworking space, try different workstations because they all offer something different. Common workstation options include community tables, single tables, bar seating, standing desks, quiet areas, couches and private rooms.
6. Familiarize yourself with different locations in the space
Sometimes you’ll want to be in the bustling community space; sometimes you’ll need a quiet space to make a call; sometimes you’ll need a big table for a collaborative project; sometimes you’ll need a meeting room. Scope out all the different locations your coworking space offers and find those that will work best for your varying needs. Most coworking spaces offer flexibility and workspace options. Make sure you’re making the most of yours.
7. Take a walk
When you hit the point in the day where you’re just staring at your screen, out of energy and focus, it’s time to take a brisk walk around the space. Even better, get out of the coworking space into the fresh air. A walk around town will clear your head, raise your energy, and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work.
8. Don’t overdo it with the coffee
Most coworking spaces offer complimentary coffee and tea. It’s a nice perk, but it can be overdone. Caffeinated drinks give you an initial adrenaline boost, but they also deplete your adrenal glands over time, leaving you feeling more tired and sluggish than you were to begin with. If you find yourself drinking strong coffee all day every day, shake up your routine with herbal teas and water. Your nervous system will thank you for it.
9. Engage with the community
The best part of coworking is the community. If you don’t feel a sense of community and mutual support, you may be in the wrong coworking space. Make the effort to become part of the community by attending events, introducing yourself, reaching out for help when you need and and helping others when you can. This community-building goes a long way toward creating a space you and your business can thrive in. It’s also a form of organic networking that is far more effective and enjoyable than many planned networking events.
10. Set boundaries to avoid burnout
When you work for yourself, you have to be motivated and dedicated. These are great qualities but, if you’re not careful, you can find yourself working all the time. Coworking spaces provide a great way to set boundaries between your work time and your off time. Work hard when you’re in your space, then put your work away and enjoy your life.
11. Create work/life balance
There’s some debate as to whether we should strive for work/life balance. But the reality is that if your attention is all work all the time, at some point it will catch up with you. Make sure that you take time for yourself. Maybe that means taking a long lunch to play soccer, leaving early for a weekend trip, attending a morning yoga class, or scheduling digital detox days.
12. Walking meetings
Author and longtime nonprofit trainer Beth Kanter recommends taking walking meetings. They’re a great way to take care of your mind and body, while also getting some work done. Get creative about the logistics of a walking meeting. Beth and I once did a recorded interview while hiking the Stanford Dish trail on one of the hottest days of the year. It required a sense of humor and frequent stops, but we got the interview done and had a great time doing it.
Workplace well-being is essential to doing your best work and living your best life. Once you find a coworking space or shared office that works for you, the next step is to make sure that you’re take care of yourself as well as your work.
Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, community and the future of work. Publications include Shareable, Yes! Magazine, Mother Jones, Triple Pundit and GOOD. She’s the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking spaces and collaborative teams. Follow @CatJohnson on Twitter: @CatJohnson