If you are new to the business of coworking, you may be wondering what the rules are when it comes to using your phone in the shared work space. Not to worry. We’re here to guide you through the rules, the etiquette, and the best practices, so your calls won’t create bad blood between you and your coworkers.
Can You Take Calls in the Shared Space?
When you and your fellow coworkers are sharing an open office space, every phone call or conversation can be a distraction. But does that mean you need to run outside every time the phone rings?
The PatchWork Collective is not a library. We expect and encourage our members to talk to each other and to do what they need to be productive at work. That includes taking short calls in the shared work space. We do ask you to keep your voice to a reasonable volume (maybe leave one headphone out so you know how loud you are talking). However, we don’t expect you to run to a phone booth or outside every time you have to take a call.
What Should You Do if You are a Loud Talker?
Some of us (myself included) naturally raise our voices whenever we are on the phone. My husband actually calls the voice I use when the phone rings my “lawyer voice.” When you use a professional tone on the telephone it conveys authority and credibility to your listener. It also tends to distract your fellow coworkers.
We love loud talkers at PatchWork. We know that you are doing what is best for your business. You won’t be bothering our staff if you take a call at your seat. However, we also have policies that we will respect each other’s privacy and are considerate about noise levels. If you are sharing the space with another coworker and your calls are distracting, please consider using one of our phone booths or reserving a private office to take those important calls.
What if My Neighbor is Distracting?
Phone etiquette goes both ways. Yes, those of us who take calls as part of our business need to be on our guard about noise levels. We should be aware if we are being distracting. However, if you are having trouble working because of your neighbor’s phone calls (or any other reason), you can and should take appropriate steps yourself. If you find your neighbor’s work distracting you could:
- Use headphones to cancel out the noise
- Move to a different seat in the shared work area
- Ask the caller to use a phone booth
The important thing is to be respectful when you make the request. We are all here trying to do work. Finding the balance of collaboration and concentration can be hard. When someone moves a little over the line, we ask that you be polite and direct in asking them to lower their voice or move to a more private area.
How Can You Protect Your Clients’ Privacy in a Shared Workspace?
Some businesses have other concerns beyond simply noise levels. People in medical, accounting, and legal fields often have confidentiality concerns they need to address when taking a call. Sometimes, what you think will be a quick, innocent phone call can suddenly turn confidential, sending you scrambling to protect your clients’ privacy.
One of the best ways to respond to this is to step into one of our phone booths. These spaces do not currently require reservations, and there is almost always at least one available. The sound absorbing ceilings and white noise machines will help ensure that your clients’ confidentiality is protected.
If you need even more privacy, or if you expect the call to continue for a while, consider reserving a private office before returning a call. Members of the PatchWork Collective can reserve any open room at any time, without notice. (Non-members must reserve spaces at least 24 hours in advance.) That means you can tell the client you will call them right back, step into a private room, and continue your call.
Can You Accidentally Abuse the Phone Booths?
Because our phone booths are first-come, first-served, you might wonder if people camp out in them all day. Luckily, at this time, the answer is no. Most of our members step in when they need to, but don’t prefer to spend the whole day in them. We would ask guests to do the same. (Personally, I would need to come out and stretch my legs!)
While there is no hard-and-fast rule, we would ask that members and guests spend no more than 2 hours at a time in the booths. This is long enough to finish most conference calls, but short enough to give someone else a chance to make a call too. If, at some future time, the phone booths come into high demand, we will make them a reservable space like our private offices. But for now, the honor system reigns.
Taking phone calls in a coworking space is a matter of common sense, and common courtesy. Always try to consider whether you would want to be the one sitting next to your phone call. If you think the answer is no, the best practice is to step away. At PatchWork Collective, we have made it easy to be polite, respect your fellow coworkers, and protect your clients’ privacy. Purchase a day-pass to give our space a try and see if it is the right fit for you.