Coworking space etiquette

I am looking into coworking space (shared office). The work I would do there involves a lot of video chat and the like which in a normal office may disturb people working in an office environment.

I have read through the contracts and terms of use of the spaces I am investigating, but while they do reserve the right to deny use to people who are disruptive, there is no clear definition of what constitutes disruptive behavior.

I do not want to just visit each one in turn and see how it goes. Many of the coworking spaces where I live require a deposit to use, and have monthly pay. They would also require me to fill out paperwork to use the space, which would be added time and hassle that I want to avoid as much as possible.

I do not want to directly ask them if it is okay for me to video chat, as I am concerned that:

They will try to ‘upsell’ me to a private office (which is 5x more expensive) regardless of the suitability of the shared space
They will tell me it is perfectly fine just to have me plop down the deposit and pay for a month of space prior to asking me to pay for an office
When calling the coworking space to get more detail, what is an appropriate way to determine the acceptable level of noise?

Hi Sanjana,

As the former operator of a coworking space, I would have to urge you to be up front with the coworking spaces about your particular needs. I think that most operators are primarily interested in providing a solution that works well for you, while keeping the comfort of the community members in mind. If you try to withhold information about how you intend on using the space, you can wind up causing issues for the coworking company, the members of that community, and for yourself.

Let the community managers you are talking with know that you will be on a lot of video chats and that you will be talking quite a bit… but that you still have to work within a budget. Perhaps they will be able to place you in a portion of the space that is less used, where you will be less disruptive to others. Or perhaps they have extra private offices available and you can negotiate a deal where they can move you around those private offices, if they aren’t in use.

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I don’t see a problem with just telling them what you’re looking to do (and maybe your budget) and then get their feedback on how that may be done in their community. You can also ask if there are other members doing the same type of thing(s) and reach out to them to get their input. You could also do a day pass (most offer this) and that shouldn’t take much time to take a brief tour and hang out for the day to see how comfortable you feel.

If the only option for coworking space is a private office and that’s not what you’re looking for, then it’s pretty easy to know it’s not a good fit. You can thank them for their time and nicely tell them they aren’t a good fit for what you’re looking to do and the budget you have.

The other side of the coin may be evaluating how realistic your needs and budget are for what you’re wanting to do. You could reach out to others doing that type of work and see where they go to do these things.

You could also check out and see if any coworking places specialize in what you’re looking for. They may or may not be in your area.

I suggest you pick the 3 that look the best (online) and take a tour of each one. It would be nice to get a feel for the place so you know which one may best fit both 1) your personality and 2) your specific video chat need.

While on the tour you can ask about their call room and how one signs out the call room and if there are limits on the use of a call room. Also ask how members normally handle video calling. You probably won’t be the first one. If the tour guide responds well, “oh, yes, that’s not a problem, they just. . .” then that’s a good sign!

I’d say, don’t be secretive. You know, video calling doesn’t have to be really loud. If you use a headset, only you hear the other person and the microphone is close to your mouth so you don’t have to speak above a normal volume.