4 Tactical Tips to Help Productivity in a Coworking Space

We’ve all been there before. You’re cranking out a good amount of work and then you realize you have to take a bathroom break. You disconnect from your laptop, take a couple of steps and run into Steve from Company X. You guys get to chatting and catch up on what’s been happening at each other’s perspective companies. 20 minutes later you realize you still need to hit the bathroom so you guys talk about grabbing happy hour later in the week. You finally make it to the bathroom and then on your walk back, you run into Suzy at Company Y. 40 minutes after you took your break you’re finally back at your seat.

This is a common problem at large coworking spaces. Here are a few tips I’ve found to be helpful when you need to get work done but still enjoy the coworking space.

1. Wear Headphones

This sounds silly but it’s actually a very effective tool. Very few people will go up to you when you’re working if you have your headphones in as it’s an unspoken rule that you’re busy. Although not fool proof, you can get away with this most of the time as long as it’s obvious that you have earplugs in–avoid using wireless earbuds. You can easily pass as if you’re on a call or just into your work.

2. Plan Ahead

If you have flexibility in your schedule to work, where and when you want, I’ve found it helpful to create a hybrid work schedule. I typically will plan to have more of a maker’s schedule at the beginning of the week. This allows me to plan out my week and know what meetings I have in the next couple of days and what needs to be done. With this in mind, I’ll typically seclude myself in the quiet areas at a coworking space or even during the morning hours at a local coffee shop if I’m in a time crunch.

I’ll then take meetings or do team calls later in the week. For this, I make sure I have all my conference rooms booked and give myself 30 mins in between meetings. This allows for any spillover in meetings but also allows you to mingle and talk to your fellow coworkers.

3. Know What You Need

Every person and company have different needs so it makes sense that not all coworking spaces are the same. With this in mind, it’s helpful to know if you’re at a stage where you need a network vs when you just need to get things done. This is not only important for your productivity but you’ll also limit your opportunities if you’re stuck in a place that doesn’t have what you need.

Don’t forget to do your research or just go test them out for a day. Although most spaces will offer similar amenities, you’ll quickly find that each has it’s own culture and strengths. Most will have a day pass or even a free day of coworking.

4. Just Tell People You’re Busy

It’s simple enough but always a bit harder to do especially if you’re a social person. Keep yourself accountable to your work. You can nicely tell a fellow coworker that you’re on a time crunch or need to get to work. We all understand as we’re also in the same boat. You’ll have more time next time to catch up!

The Center of Gravity for Entrepreneurs

Suggesting that you’re the center of gravity of anything is a pretty hefty statement to make. It wasn’t until I first dove into entrepreneurship and started coworking at Capital Factory that I knew what that meant. I specifically chose the word “dove” in that that’s what Capital Factory allows you to do. Rather than being an upgrade from a coffee shop that allows you to work with other entrepreneurs, the massive space on the 1st, 5th and 16th floor of the Omni building allows you to quickly execute on the things you need and gives you access to mentors as you go through each stage of your business.

More than Just a Space

When I first started I didn’t know anyone in my industry and essentially just had an idea turned MVP. Working at Capital Factory was pivotal in building my network and learning from the best who have gone through the hurdles I was currently experiencing. With access to serial entrepreneurs like Josh Kerr and Acton Business School teacher and entrepreneur Dave Perry, you’re able to navigate the do’s and don’ts of building and growing your business.

With the caliber of experienced people going through you can only imagine that you’d likely bump into some great people in the kitchen. This is a place known for it’s network that spans outside of Austin and even Texas. With this in mind, it’s also a very active space that sometimes makes it difficult to get work done. This is actually a common problem for a lot of larger coworking spaces. No matter how much you try, you’ll likely bump into someone you know or should know on your trip to the bathroom. They have dedicated quiet areas (head down to the 5th floor to get real work knocked out) that you can hide in if you have to get work done but you have to be a bit strategic about it at times.

Is it Right For Me?

Capital Factory does a great job of offering resources and bringing together those in the tech and startup scene. If your company falls outside of that spectrum (i.e. crafts, retail, lifestyle etc) it may be better off for you to find a space that specializes in that. For those who have a tech or tech enabled company, whether just an idea or a growing team, this is the space you want to know.

They offer everything from a community membership, where you can get to know the network before you commit, to private offices for your team. Another one of the nice things about Capital Factory is that they offer a ton of free classes and panels that’ll help you navigate your company. You can also slowly dip your toes into the community before you make a bigger commitment in membership. The coworking space also actively works with startups with their accelerator program and has recently expanded to Dallas, Texas.

My best advice is check out the space and see if the culture fits you and your company. They have a ton of free opportunities to check out and tour.

Space Built By a Freelancer

There are over 30 coworking spaces to date in Austin and likely more to come. With so many options out there, it’s difficult to make a decision on what fits your work and lifestyle. Each have their own flavor and audience and finding the right one takes time.

I recently went to the opening of MELD coworking earlier this month. I’m normally hesitant about new spaces but was recommended by a handful of people from The Society of Women Entrepreneurs in Austin. I figured I’d give it a try since our remote team had been head down and working out of local coffee shops. It was time for a change.

Freelancer mindset

I was immediately met with a smile from Kay Dee, the owner and a long time freelancer. She walked me through the area and explained how the idea of MELD started. As a freelancer herself, she struggled with finding a space that was comfortable, affordable but also conducive to getting things done. Her personal experiences helped her understand the pain points that freelancers and the growing WFH community go through.

One of the most appealing options that MELD offers is such a variable plan. You’re able to choose from packaged plans anywhere from 2 days a week to unlimited or a packaged punch card. Kay Dee explains how as a freelancer, one of the biggest perks about your job is your freedom. So why restrict freelancers to just one area? I think she’s completely right about this as I struggled with committing to just one place and often found inspiration in different areas. MELD’s plans allows you to work in several areas without breaking the bank.

The coworking space expands on this theme by providing different areas with different ambience and functions. This reminds me a minimalist view of the White House in San Francisco, “where every room has its own style and pieces of decor and furniture collected of different characters.” I particularly appreciated the 2nd floor, corner wing of the house which is purposely without music. It’s designed for those who are wanting to get work done and to be in their zone. One of the hardest parts about coworking spaces is that you get to know the community and your efficiency starts to slow down. Meld’s emphasis on spaces creates a safe place for those needing to work without feeling pressured to socialize.

Who Should Visit?

MELD coworking is located just North of the University of Texas so you’d imagine that it attracts a lot of grad students and artists in the community. Since it’s so new it’s hard to pinpoint the culture just yet. Their site states that it’s “built for the digital nomad, we host a community of small business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers.”

Hard to miss with it’s bright blue exterior!

If you’re looking for a place to build your network and find a community, you may be better served at other locations. However, if you’re looking for a quiet place that provides several functions within one home, MELD is a great option. One of my favorite things about MELD is that it’s situated in the Heritage neighborhood and blends in with it’s architecture of older homes in the community. Their tagline is “work from home away from home” which makes sense in it’s choice in space. It also appealing that it’s walking distance from Trudy’s and Spider House, great places to eat and also study if you want a change in scenery.

It wasn’t too many years earlier when there were few options outside of coffee shops and libraries. It’s wonderful to see so many different options in community and work spaces in Austin now!