Beware How You Share: Navigating the New, Shared Workspace

As was noted in the October 4 edition of The Wall Street Journal, shared workspace for non co-workers is becoming increasingly common.

With this in mind, I thought I’d put together a few quick do’s and don’ts for getting along amicably with cohorts who aren’t your colleagues:


Dress for the office. As was noted in the article, these spaces are highly conducive to unexpected alliances being formed and subsequent deals being done. With this in mind now is not the time to wear sweats/leave your shirt’s tail hanging out/display your latest thong….

Network intelligently. As with an airplane, there is a time and place for everything. Chatting during meals works well on an airplane. The same is true here. If someone’s deep in a document, now is not the time to try to make friends. Wait until they take a coffee break.

Be mindful about noise—and not just keeping your voice down while on the phone. That  crunchy apple or microwave popcorn is going to drive someone mad.

Remember these aren’t your co-workers. This isn’t the place to share your elation (or despair) at how your work is going, to ask for tech support, or to borrow office supplies.


Eat (or dispose of) odorous foodstuffs (banana peels, tuna fish, “street meat”…)

Douse yourself in scented anything—perfume, lotion, aftershave….

Come to work if you’re sick. Yes, these aren’t your co-workers, but this is a shared space. The same way no one wants to hear you/sit next to you when you’re hacking up a lung in the movie theater, no one wants you in the open office space when you’re sick.

Go barefoot/wander around in socks. (I know it seems crazy that this needs to be listed, but I’m just reporting what I hear.)

Sully the bathroom. Enough said.

Frances Cole Jones