Coworking is about voluntary working together with other people based on mutual trust. You are usually also not trapped in long-term agreements if you don't like to work within certain communities of coworking spaces. However, contracts between a member and the working facility are an important element of most of coworking spaces.
One option is to borrow the wording of an existing contract. These can be heavy and long winded, the language of which does often not reflect the welcoming and collaborative feeling of coworking spaces. Writing your own contract is not as difficult as one may think, however caution should be taken that no important elements are overlooked.
Broadly speaking, there are three sections that must be addressed in a coworking space member contract. This contract should be universal, applying to each of the members in your space, whether they are permanent or flexible members or drop-ins.
As long as all sections are covered, a contract needn’t be reams long or contain words with an unnatural number of syllables. Indeed, making your members agreement straightforward and comprehensible, in an approachable language, will mean that it is more likely read, understood, and respected. In addition, using layman’s terms in place of lawyer’s jargon will give a better impression of the personableness of your space.
Community and respect for other members
You must mention in your contract that a coworking space is a shared office. Sensitive information will therefore sometimes be overheard. Members should be expected to respect the rights of privacy and non-disclosure of fellow coworkers.
Respect for other members in general is also an important clause. New members should know too that their rights to non-disruptive work will be upheld, and that they will be working in a safe and respectful workplace.
Fair use of Equipment
This section covers anything dealing with the physical aspects of your space, and other members’ equipment. You should also include here the prohibitions against spam, pyramid schemes and junk mail, and dissemination of unlawful materials (included copyrighted materials) through the coworking space’s servers.
It is also important for a coworking space to ask members to use caution when downloading files, ensuring that they are not software or programs that could cause damage to other people’s property. In addition, it is a good idea to ask members to have an up-to-date malware or virus scanner, especially for smartphones and Windows computers.
Members should also be recommended to purchase a Rental Insurance Policy covering themselves and their own equipment.
This includes information on the spaces stance on smoking, parking, pets and children. If the landlord has any specific requests, make sure to clearly address these under this section. If desired, mention that these policies are not the space’s own, but are required by the building’s proprietor.
Following the description of these sections, operators should allow for grounds for termination, mentioning that a breach of these rules will result in expulsion from the space and the community.
Have a lawyer check your terms is advisable, but optional. Following the structures of existing contracts is often enough to ensure that a coworking space has covered themselves and their community. Several examples of coworking space membership agreements can be found on the coworking wiki.