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Coworking spaces are popping up all over the place these days, in rural areas as well as town and city centers. If you’re used to working at home alone, like me, you might wonder how on earth you could possibly work surrounded by people you don’t know and who have no connection with your business.

Don’t let doubts like these put you off, as coworking can both brighten up your usual routine and give you a supportive network – without requiring you to go to any events!

Here are some tips to help you acclimatize to coworking:

Check out the space – If you’re lucky enough to have a choice of coworking spaces, check out each one (they often offer a free trial) for factors such as facilities, atmosphere, noise and levels of interaction. Choose the one most suited to your business requirements, personality and whether you simply want another place to work or to become part of a community.

Introduce yourself straightaway – As it can be awkward to do so later when you’ve been working alongside people for a while. Take in some snacks to hand round if you’re a bit shy about doing this and not only will you get to meet everybody but youll be guaranteed instant popularity.

Take headphones – If you prefer working in silence you might be distracted at first by people moving around the space and talking on the phone or face to face. Bring in headphones so you can play your own music or one of the white noise apps; do try not to hum along!

Start with easy tasks – If you’re worried about being distracted, at first just take along some routine work that doesn’t require massive concentration. It’s the ideal time to do that computer housekeeping you’ve been meaning to get round to, or research to keep up with your industry. You will adapt to being surrounded by activity and gradually be able to introduce jobs needing more application.

Learn the phone policy – Make sure you know the policy on dealing with phone calls and follow it. That may mean leaving the room to take a call or simply keeping your voice down. It shows consideration if you put your phone on the Meeting setting so that your colleagues don’t have to listen repeatedly to your ring tone.

Chat a bit – Don’t feel guilty about spending time chatting and view it instead as relationship building. You’ll be amazed how much information and advice emerges from these casual exchanges and they can give you enough inspiration to last the rest of the week. And you never know who might be a potential partner – one of your coworkers might be actively looking for just your skills.

The great thing about coworking is that you can choose how much or how little you want to participate, and slot it into your routine where it fits best. Good luck in finding your own perfect balance for maximum happiness and efficiency, and I’d love to hear your own tips for acclimatizing.

Photo Credit: khawkins04

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  • CreativeDensity

    I love the suggestion to introduce yourself right away. If you don’t then it just creates awkward moments later on and people build up little imaginary walls and fall into groups.

    I’ve always felt this was one of the most important roles of a community manager was to introduce everyone at the beginning and make them comfortable.

    • http://www.workfromhomewisdom.com Judy Heminsley

      Thanks for the comment, Craig, you’re so right about ‘little imaginary walls’!  Spending a lot of time working alone builds them up, but coworking can help knock them down if handled right.

  • http://www.dangerouslyawesome.com alexknowshtml

    This is a great list. A bunch of great ideas for our onboarding process.

    • http://www.workfromhomewisdom.com Judy Heminsley

      Thanks, Alex, I hope it takes some of the doubt away for first-time coworkers!

  • Susan

    This is awesome! Thanks so much for posting – you’ve captured so many of the important steps to having a successful start to coworking. 

    • http://www.workfromhomewisdom.com Judy Heminsley

      Thanks, Susan, coworking has made a big difference to my working life and I’d like other people to experience it too :-)

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