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One of the perks of working in a co-working space is that you aren’t alone as you build your new business. It’s lovely to surround yourself with like-minded people who can help pick you up if you fall and provide you with a constant stream of insight and advice as you make your way as an entrepreneur.

On the other hand, if your co-workers that share the co-working space in which you work are less than ideal, well you are going to have to find a way to manage those situations so that you don’t lose steam and get sidetracked.

We’ve put together a list of possible problem co-working space co-workers and provide some advice on how to deal with each one.

1) The Complainer

Everyone complains about something from time to time, but if you find yourself face-to-face with a constant complainer, the vibe in your co-working space is going to go down the tubes. Once tarnished by bad attitudes and woe-is-me thinking, it can be hard to build that momentum back up for those who are continuing to work on their businesses, even after the complainer has left the building. How can you deal with these kinds of business owners?

For starters, remember that you are not responsible for showing this person the lay of the land, unless, you know, you are responsible as part of your job at the co-working space. Otherwise, it is on that person to figure out how to conduct themselves professionally.

Rather than try to correct someone who lives in a constant state of complacency, make subtle suggestions about looking on the bright side. Nothing disarms a complainer faster than telling them how their source of complaints could be a positive influence instead of a negative one.

Finally, decide that you won’t allow your productivity to suffer because of their negative attitude and find yourself another corner of the co-working space to work in if necessary.

2) The Late-for-Every-Meeting Co-Worker

Whether or not the person showing up late is on your team, the disruption is very real and distracting for everyone in the co-working space. It’s not uncommon for co-working spaces to offer public events or private events for their resident business owners, and when one person shows up late on a regular basis, it can ruin the good feel for everyone.

One of the perks of working in a common area like a co-working space is that you get to take advantage of numerous engagements and networking opportunities.

But if someone is showing up late all the time or not taking their business seriously, it can put a damper on things for everyone else. If you find yourself in the presence of someone who strolls in 15 minutes after the event or meeting has started, take a moment to discuss how disruptive it is.

Ask that someone not come at all if they are going to be late, or to be quiet when they arrive so that they don’t disrupt others who showed up on time.

3) The Leaves-Their-Belongings-Everywhere Co-Worker

The great thing about co-working spaces is that there is generally a great deal of space to go around and people can come and go as they please to take advantage of the space to build their businesses, host meetings, or work on whatever it is that is on their to-do list for that day.

But everyone now and then you run into someone who thinks the entire co-working space is for their personal use and they’ll leave dirty coffee mugs, piles of paper, stray pens, and maybe even some valuable belongings around.

Unless you’ve paid for a specific desk at a co-working space, it’s just rude to claim one as your own and not allow others to make use of the space when you are not there. But you know that. We’re not talking about you. We’re talking about your rude co-worker who happens to think the world revolves around them.

If you find yourself faced with the prospect of nowhere to sit because co-worker Joe has decided to leave his things lying around again, gently move his things into a place where they won’t get in anyone’s way.  

When he inevitably arrives looking bewildered about where his things are, explain to him that the area is for everyone to use and he needs to take his things home with him at the end of the day. He might not like it, but at least you’ll have a place to work.

4) The Co-Worker Who Doesn’t Stop Talking

When you decide to launch or grow your business through the use of a co-working space, please remember that it is not a library. Meaning, nobody has any obligation to be quiet, but within reason, of course. It’s a good idea to remember that others are working in the space and it’s important to be respectful of that space so that people can make the most of their time at work.

So if you find yourself in the presence of a co-worker who won’t stop talking, or insists on interrupting people who are working with their head down, consider asking them to continue the conversation over coffee later in the day.

You are in control of how much work you get done in the run of a day, and even if you find yourself surrounded by Suzie-talks-a lot kind of people, you can speak up and ask them to take the conversation elsewhere. The worst thing that will happen is Suzie will not stop talking, but at least you’ve said your thoughts on the matter instead of letting it fester.

There is no real difference between working in a co-working space and working in the dedicated office except that you get to meet more people on a regular basis and your day-to-day may get filled with different tasks, activities, engagements, networking opportunities and more.

You never know who might pop into your co-working space on a random Tuesday, but you can bet that you won’t get visitors off the street to your 3rd-floor-private office when it’s just you running the show. Think about investing in a co-working space for the health and wealth of your business.

Now that you are equipped to deal with troublesome co-workers and have become well versed on what you might expect in some situations, you can redirect your energy to building your business! You don’t have to worry about what you’ll do about late-to-the-party Joe, Suzie-talks-a lot, and the rest of the crew who, let’s face it, you’d be working with at a real job anyway. So make the most of it!

Written By
Having grown up in a family owned business, and now working as the Content Director for Karrass- a company specializing in negotiation training for businesses - John is grateful for the many opportunities he's had to share his passion for business and writing.

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