How to Create Coworking House Rules

Learn how to create a thriving community with intentional rules
By Kelly K
May 10, 2024
How to create coworking house rules

I bet you didn’t get into coworking because you wanted to make a bunch of rules.

And yet, here you are…looking for some guidance on how to make rules. 

As mundane as they may be, rules are absolutely essential for order in communal spaces. They help keep you, your space, and your members safe and free from conflict.

We would guess that north of 95% of coworking spaces have some sort of rules and regulations, formal or informal. If you’re just starting a coworking space, it’s time you create them too.

In this guide, we’ll help you create coworking house rules that are simple, clear, and most importantly, effective.

What are coworking house rules?

Coworking house rules guide and tips

Coworking house rules outline how people should behave in and interact with your space. It typically comes in the form of a digital and/or printed document that is shared with members when they join.

The rules will usually cover things like:

  • Community guidelines
  • Kitchen processes
  • Space access
  • Guest policy
  • WiFi and printing
  • Amenity access

House rules format

The most common format we see for coworking rules is a digital PDF or Google Doc that is sent via email to members. It’s also a good idea to post your house rules publicly on your website somewhere, similar to how Vibe Coworks did it on their site.

In terms of length and other formatting, there’s really no special formula. 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 documents as needed. 

Neither is better than the other. Focus instead on making your rules as long or as short as needed 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 a 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.

What should your coworking space house rules include?

Again, there is no perfect answer here. In fact, you’re likely to make up the rules as you go, and document them accordingly. 

But the beautiful thing about your house rules is that they are yours. This means that you can make them into whatever you want them to be.

So rather than give you a long list of things you should include, we’ll share with you a few examples of house rules you can look at for inspiration.

If you’re in our Facebook community, we’d also highly recommend asking for some suggestions on how to write your house rules there! The group is always happy to share their insights and knowledge with others.

Join the We Run Flex Community for Coworking and Flex Space Leaders

Tips for creating effective house rules

Tips for creating effective coworking house rules

Here are some tips for getting started with creating rules for your coworking space. Remember, your house rules are a living, breathing document – use the information here as a starting point, but continue to iterate as you go along.

1. Include information on using common areas

Your common areas will be frequented by members, new and old. How people behave in these areas will impact the community at large. For that reason, it’s critical to map out exactly what people should (and shouldn’t) do in communal spaces including:

  • The kitchen
  • The washroom
  • Open desk areas
  • Front door and reception

Here is an example of what those rules may look like for a kitchen in a coworking space. 

You are welcome to use any of the dishes in the cabinet above the sink. If you do use a dish, please put it in the dishwasher after it’s been used.

Label any containers in the fridge that are yours. The fridge is emptied on Fridays at 6pm. Any unlabeled containers will be disposed of.

If there is no coffee, please let our community manager know so they can make fresh pot.

Not sure where to start? This list of coworking etiquette from Coworking Resources can give you an idea of guidelines you may want to include in your house rules.

2. 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 (special attention on that last part).

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. It is clear and easy to understand from the perspective of the members.

It even includes a clause around a very specific use case that they’ve likely come up against, leaving no room for interpretation.

3. Answer FAQs in your house rules

Are your members forgetting to put their dishes in the dishwasher? Is your phone booth being abused on a consistent basis?

Pay attention to the questions or problems that are constantly coming up and add these to your house rules as you go along. Ask your community manager what questions members ask them again and again, and what they often need to be reminded about.

If you and your team are dealing with the same problems everyday, it’s probably a good idea to consider adding it to your house rules. Here are a few examples.

Problem Solution
Old food is being left in the fridge Add a sticky note to the fridge that says any unlabeled food will be thrown out Friday evenings at 6pm
Members are using the phone booth for too long Give your phone booths a 90 minute limit and encourage members to book via your coworking software
People are taking Zoom calls loudly at their desk Create quiet zones in your space where phone calls cannot be taken – encourage them to book a phone booth instead

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. Put printed signs around your space

Consider printing out portions of your house rules and posting them in relevant areas throughout the building. You can paste short and sweet reminders that are designed, printed, and put in frames around the space. 

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 onboarding. 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. If you’re not physically in the space, create a Loom video that walks people through the rules and is sent directly to their inbox.

Another fun tactic we’ve seen our clients do is have group onboarding sessions for all new members weekly or biweekly.

This gives 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. Include your rules in your coworking app

You’ll definitely want to send your house rules to your members via a Google doc or PDF file during their onboarding. If your rules are not confidential, you may also want to post them somewhere on your website, perhaps in the footer, for easy access.

But you can take digital access to your rules one step further by making them available to members in your coworking 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 them accessible to your members at any time.

Learn more about having a white-labeled app in your coworking space.

4. 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 an important part of 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 rules are necessary for creating a happy and healthy community of people who feel safe and respected in the space.

We hope this article gives you the knowledge and confidence you need to create effective rules that can keep everyone in your community happy and safe!

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