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Many members join coworking spaces in Spring, marking the first season of many to come for most members. But what does that first week feel like? For coworking veterans, it's hard to think back to the very first week as a coworker, and remember how it felt to work in such a different environment for the first time. We met Lasse, a Danish expat living in San Francisco who was a newbie to the world of coworking... until he joined his space. Here, Lasse shares his experience of his first week, and offers tips for those who are not yet familiar with the concept.
By Lasse Chor - Thursday, 03 May 2012

A guest post by Lasse Chor:

This week in my coworking space passed by at the speed of light, as weeks tend to do when they're busy. This one, though, was a little different: it was my first week as a real coworker. And what a week it's been! I’ve met many an interesting person, had many an interesting conversation. I’ve felt my productivity increase and felt more relaxed when returning home from work. My first week taught me some things about being a coworker that I would like share with other first-time coworkers and people considering coworking for their future work-life; and the greatest challenge I've found was to tap into the community.

Tapping into the community

An essential part of a coworking space is its active and strong community. But strong communities can sometimes be difficult to penetrate, precicely because they are forged on close ties and deep connections between the people in it. Communities are defined by the participants’ feeling of belonging – and if you don’t feel like you belong it is difficult to feel like you are part of the community. For this reason, I found it really important in the first week (and for some weeks beyond that) to spend some extra time tapping into the community. This can be difficult for the best of networkers, but it makes all the difference to your coworking experience.

In my experience, I've found that relationships can be lubricated with cookies, and it's a good way to break the ice on the first day. Take a jar of cookies and a sign saying, “Hi, I’m a new coworker – I’ll pay you a cookie for your pitch!” (or maybe something a little less lame), and this will help spark informal conversations with your future coworkers. It also helps to to arrive early during the first week and secure a seat at a central desk in an open work area. Being tucked away in a corner isn't very conducive to starting conversation.

Events can be helpful (and fun!) too, so try to participate in potluck lunches and workshops, or even pub crawls after hours.

Making sure to do things that integrated me into the community had some positive benefits on my coworking expereince; here are a few:

1. Never eating alone

Somebody once said that a lunch eaten alone is a missed opportunity (or something along those lines). By being in a coworking space, there's always someone to share your lunch break with. It is exciting to learn about their projects and follow their progress and new challenges from day to day. It gets the creative juices flowing, and a great influence on your own work, since there is always someone to bounce ideas off of. This has already proven to be very helpful. After a while, of course, lunch partners help expand your networks and allow you to feel more connected to a space.

2. Getting away from home

It goes without saying that if you're coworking, you're not at home. And already, this gets you away from daily chores, and allows you to concentrate more fully on the tasks you need to acomplish. More importantly, I’ve learned that by getting away from home, I have a much more structured workday and a better balance between my work and personal life.

3. Coambitions

I may have just invented a word here, but it is the best I could come up with to describe the feeling of my first week as a coworker. Basically what I mean is that, when you're in a room full of clever, sedulous and passionate entrepreneurs and freelancers, it's very difficult not to work hard. Following them and watching them succeed is an extremely motivating experience – because it might be you who's next.

All in all, I enjoyed my first week as a coworker, and I look forward to the upcoming weeks and opportunities to connect even more with the community.


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