How to Stay Productive in a Shared Workspace

Passion Digital Passion Digital 09/08/2019 4 minutes

There’s something special about shared workspaces. Researchers who study how workers thrive have found that those who work at a shared workspace score an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. That’s at least a point higher than employees who work in regular offices.

There’s no denying that a shared workspace can be an inspiring, creative and vibrant place to work, but being surrounded by other freelancers typing, talking and generally going about their business can be incredibly distracting. So, how can you make sure you stay productive in your shared workspace? Here are our top tips…

1. Get up early

You might have hoped life as a freelancer would bring an end to early starts, but if you really want to be productive, it’s advisable to get up and head to your shared workspace while everyone else is still resting their heads.

Shared workspaces tend to open early to accommodate all working types, while some can even be accessed 24/7. In the early morning, you’re likely to find the space is lovely and quiet and you might even have it all to yourself. Come the early afternoon when the workspace is busy, you can head home for a well-earned nap.

2. Avoid impromptu conversations when you’re busy

One of the biggest advantages of a shared workspace is having the opportunity to meet other freelancers. Losing the social aspect that comes with employment can be tough, but a shared workspace is a great way to fill that void. That said, stopping for impromptu chats every ten minutes is not going to help you get things done.

Creating recognised breaks and sticking to them, such as stopping for a coffee and a bite to eat, will help you show people when you’re ready for a chat. It’s not about ignoring people; it’s about creating the time to engage with them properly.

3. Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones

If your shared workspace is a bit raucous towards the end of the day, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to keep you in the zone. Even if you can’t work while listening to music, the headphones will still cancel out much of the ambient sound. It’s also the polite equivalent of hanging a ‘do not disturb’ sign around your neck, showing others that you’re well and truly in work mode.

4. Pay more for your own desk

If never knowing where you’re going to be working hinders your productivity, paying a bit more for a dedicated desk could be a sound investment. You can set your desk up however you like and choose to have it in an area that’s conducive to hard work.

When choosing your desk, make sure there isn’t anything chaotic and messy within your line of sight to help you maintain your focus. Face away from cluttered tables, rubbish bins and busy hallways. Instead, try to find a desk that faces simple, clean lines, such as a garden window or a wall, and ideally gets plenty of natural light.

5. Use your time wisely

The most productive workers are not those who work the longest hours, but those who work for a shorter period and take regular breaks. Studies have shown that to produce the highest quality work, freelancers should work intensely for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break. During those 52-minutes of work, ignore all emails, stay off social media, mute notifications and focus on getting your best work done.

How to find a good shared workspace

Now we’ve shared a few tips to keep you productive, it’s worth thinking about how you can find a good shared workspace in the first instance. With 85 percent of people more motivated and 88 percent having better interaction with other people during the working day, the reasons for choosing a shared workspace are clear, but how do you find one that’ll bring the best out of you and your small business?

  • Test drive the space: Most shared workspaces will offer a free trial for a day or up to a week so you can ‘try before you buy’. If they don’t offer you a trial, ask for one.
  • Check it has everything you need: Every co-working space will have essential office tech such as printers and high-speed Wi-Fi, but make sure it also has conference rooms for client meetings, private spaces to make phone calls and quiet areas where you can work without being disturbed.
  • Get a feel for the culture: Every space will have its own culture, which will make some workspaces a better fit for you and your business than others. Make sure you feel completely comfortable in the space before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Lease terms: You want a flexible lease deal that suits you. If one shared workspace can’t offer you a deal on your terms, there’ll be plenty of others that can.
  • Productive and varied workstations: Don’t just settle for a flat table space. Look for a shared workspace that has a variety of workstations that will support how you like to work.
  • A sense of community: Some co-working facilities specialise in supporting workers from a particular industry or build a sense of community by making introductions, hosting networking events and even holding a happy hour.

Take your freelance career to the next level

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