- Coworking house rules usually refers to a document that outlines how people should behave in and interact with your space
- Having clearly documented house rules can help you minimize time spent answering member questions and create a welcoming environment for everyone
- Make your rules simple, clear, easy to understand, and memorable for all
Rules bring order to any space. And while they may not be the most fun part about managing a coworking space, they are one of the most important.
Establishing rules and clear expectations is not just about protecting you and your space. It’s about ensuring your members are happy, safe, and free from conflict.
Knowing where to start with your house rules can feel overwhelming. What should they cover? How should you enforce them?
Use this guide to help you create coworking house rules that are simple, clear, and effective.
What are coworking house rules?
Coworking house rules usually refers to a document that outlines how people should behave in and interact with your space.
It typically covers things like:
- Community guidelines (your values, how members should treat others)
- Kitchen processes
- Accessing the space
- Guest policy
- WiFi and printing
- Amenity access
Some spaces opt for in-depth house rules that cover every aspect of the space in a 10-page document, while others prefer a more succinct set of guidelines with additional process docs as needed.
The goal of your house rules is to clearly outline how your members should interact with the essential areas of your space. You should make them as long or as short as you need to in order to cover all the necessities.
Why do you need clear coworking rules?
People like structure. When they know what to do and what to expect, they are more likely to feel safe and comfortable in any given environment.
Having clearly documented house rules for you coworking space can:
- Minimize the time you spend answering member questions
- Foster community through respectful interactions
- Help people feel safe by setting clear expectations
- Create a welcoming environment for everyone
They also help protect your team and your community manager from feeling like “the bad guy”. It’s not about enforcing their rules, it’s about enforcing the house rules.
This protects not just you and your space, but your team as well.
Tips for creating effective house rules
The beautiful thing about your house rules is they are yours. This means that you can make them into whatever you want them to be.
Many owners and operators view their house rules as a living, breathing document. They set the foundation in the beginning, then update and add to it as needed.
Here are some tips for getting started with creating your house rules.
1. Include information on using all common areas
Common areas are public spaces used by all members of your coworking space. It includes things like:
- The kitchen
- The washroom
- Open desk areas
- Front door and reception
Because many different people are going to be using this one space, it’s important to make sure it is looked after and taken care of regularly.
For that reason, you’ll want to ensure you’ve included in your house rules what is expected of a member after they use the kitchen or visit the washroom. For example, if it is the community member’s responsibility to empty the dishwasher or clean their items out of the fridge, make sure this is clear from the get-go.
2. Put your members first
Create your rules with the safety and comfort of your members top-of-mind. This means including policies around playing music, disrupting other members, and bringing guests into the space.
A coworking space is somewhere between a home and an office, so create guidelines that reflect it as such. Make sure people feel comfortable, but there is still a level of respect and safety given that you’re sharing a space.
This list of coworking etiquette from Coworking Resources gives you an idea of certain guidelines you may want to include in your house rules.
3. Make your rules clear and easy to understand
Clarity is key when it comes to creating rules. This means clear writing, clear expectations, and clear consequences for when things are not followed.
Here is an example from one coworking space on their rule around internet usage:
Our network may not be used for any activities that could be interpreted as fraudulent, unlawful, harassing, abusive, or obscene. If you use an unreasonable amount of bandwidth, we may ask you to stop. Repeat offenders will have membership revoked. Crypto mining is strictly prohibited.
The rule is created in a way that gives coworking owners the right to set their own terms around internet usage, while informing members on the potential consequences of repeat abuse.
4. Answer FAQs in your house rules
If you are just opening your doors, then you may not have any frequently asked questions yet. However, pay attention to the questions or problems that are constantly coming up and add these to your house rules..
If you and your team are constantly dealing with the same problem, then, it may be a good idea to consider adding it to your house rules.
- Mugs are consistently being left in the sink
- Members are using the phone booth for too long (a coworking management software can help with this too!)
- People are taking Zoom calls loudly at their desk
Consider how you can use your space guidelines in order to minimize the time you and your team spend answering questions.
Tips for enforcing coworking house rules
Creating your house rules is only half the battle. Next, you’ll have to consider how you plan to enforce the rules in your space.
Here are a few tips to respectfully keep the order in your coworking space
1. Have your rules physically on hand in the space
If you choose to format your rules in a longer document, then it may not make sense to print them out and post them on the wall. However, consider printing them out and keeping them in a binder in a common area.
You can even create a nicely designed booklet that reflects your brand and makes it more engaging for your members. This can serve as a reminder to new members as to how to operate in your space.
You may also want to consider printing out portions of your house rules and posting them in relevant areas throughout the building. You can also have short and sweet reminders that are designed, printed and put in frames.
Here are a few examples.
- 30 minute time limit sign in your phone booths – “This place is popular! Limit your time to 30 minutes or less”
- Dishwasher reminder in the kitchen – “Work Together! Empty & load the dishwasher to keep the space clean”
- What to do if the security system goes off– “Alarm going off? Not an emergency? Flag the community manager to help.”
Some fun signs are a nice way to give your members a friendly nudge on what the processes in your space are.
2. Go over all rules in your onboarding
The easiest time to introduce rules and regulations to members is during the onboarding experience. This is when you can set the expectations right off the bat for how to behave in your coworking space.
Develop a comprehensive onboarding experience that includes an in-person orientation. One fun tactic to consider is having group onboarding sessions for all new members weekly or biweekly.
It gives new members the opportunity to meet others in the space, while giving you the opportunity to go over all of the rules at once, as opposed to multiple times in a week.
3. Send a digital copy of your house rules to your members
You’ll want to send your house rules to your members via a Google doc or PDF file during their onboarding as well.
That way you can ensure they can access them at any time. If your rules are not confidential, you may also want to post them somewhere on your website, perhaps in the footer, for easy access.
Not only does this make your rules accessible for your current members, but it can also serve to educate prospective members about what the culture of your space is like and what they can expect if they were to join.
4. Include your rules in your coworking app
Repetition is key when it comes to enforcing rules. Take your rule enforcement a step further by making them available to members in your coworking management app.
This is great because:
- Your rules are now on your member’s mobile phone
- They can see them anytime they log into your app
- The house rules are top-of-mind for your members
Embedding your house rules within your coworking app is an easy way to make your rules accessible to your members at any time.
Learn more about having a white-labeled app in your coworking space.
5. Create a plan on how to handle consistent rule breakers
You will most likely have people who break your rules once or twice. You may even have people who constantly push the boundaries and “forget” to follow key guidelines you’ve laid out.
For these situations, it’s best to have a plan on what you will do if people consistently break the rules in your space.
You may want to have a “three-strike” policy depending on the severity of the rule that they’re breaking. For example, forgetting to put their dirty dishes away will not likely require the same level of consequences as harassing a member of the space.
Have a plan for what to do when things go awry and individuals blatantly disregard the rules in place. Better yet, have this built into your terms of service.
6. Be transparent about consequences of rule breaking in your onboarding and contract
Once you develop a plan for how to handle rule breakers, you’ll want to be open, honest, and transparent about that plan and the consequences.
Not only does this create a culture of open communication in your space, but it prevents people from feeling slighted for breaking the rules.
If your house rules and consequences are clearly laid out in your coworking space, then you’re likely to avoid even more conflict with misbehaving members.
House rules are important to a happy, healthy community
Creating rules, boundaries, and processes may not be the most fun part of opening a coworking space.
However, structure is the foundation for a thriving community, and it is an absolute necessity for creating a happy and healthy community of people who feel safe and respected in the space.
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