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May 03, 2016

How to make the most out of a shared office space

Having a shared kitchen or communal space at work can often feel like reverting back to your student days. And those of you who have not had the student experience can still appreciate that these spaces can soon turn into a bombsite if the appropriate rules aren’t put in place.

Despite this, there are still some great advantages of having a shared space and design can play a key part in this.

In this guide, we outline some key steps you can take to help make the most out of your shared office space.

Office etiquette

While tidying up is the last thing on your mind at work, no one is too good to wash up their own coffee cup or clean a spillage. Following some simple rules can help keep the communal area a clean and welcoming environment:

• Clean up after yourself
• Don’t steal other people’s stuff
• Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes
• Don’t leave food to go mouldy

The best way to ensure a clean office is to stick to a rota – whether this is to take turns in washing-up/putting away or taking the bins out. While people may have good intentions of cleaning up after themselves, if it’s in black and white, everyone knows whose responsibility it is and who to blame when things start looking a bit shabby.
No matter how many passive-aggressive notes you leave, unfortunately you can’t guarantee that your ‘hands off’ note is going to discourage everyone from taking your favourite mug or expensive coffee. Either la- out some ground rules or stick to keeping your own essentials in a locked cupboard or secret stash in the office.

Breaking the rules

We don’t mean slacking on your cleaning duties here. Breaking the rules in terms of design is one way to make the most out of your communal area. Alan Feltoon, vice president of US interior design firm, Leo A Daly once said: “A kitchen doesn’t have to be a kitchen.”

Feltoon believes in using every inch of your office space: “It’s a luxury to be able to have space that sits vacant all the time” he said. “You have different opportunities to use conference rooms, pull together things for impromptu meetings.”

Companies are starting to rework their kitchen space for connectivity – adding tables that can double as workstations and otherwise treating it more as a café instead of an industrial kitchen.
Having a more relaxed and creative space means people are more likely to look after it.

The take-away

70% of behaviours are reflected, so if you post passive-aggressive notes – except to receive them and if you lead by example by cleaning up after yourself, expect others to follow suit. An office environment is all about teamwork so to make the most of your communal space at work, the key word is ‘communicate’. If you don’t speak up about how you want the space to be used, it won’t be.

Have you got any tips with dealing with a shared work space or need help resolving the look of your office? If so, get in touch today or share some of your ideas with us on Twitter and Facebook.