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How to Avoid Coworker Envy

When you are working in a coworking space, it can seem like some of your coworkers are all-play, no work. When you’re trying to slog through a tough assignment, seeing fellow members breezing through their tasks and leaving early isn’t any fun. But coworker envy won’t do you any good, and it could just slow you down. Here’s how to avoid it.

Coworker Envy is Just Another Distraction

It was a bright, warm, sunny Friday afternoon. The first decent weekend of the summer was about to get underway. But I was hip deep in a writing project with no end in sight. Next to me, at the laptop bar, one of my coworkers was just wrapping up a call so he could go watch a golf tournament happening that weekend. I admit, I was envious.

And I don’t even like golf.

No one wants to work all the time. Work life balance is a priority for many freelancers and remote workers who value the experiences they have outside the office as much as the paycheck they receive for being in it. But we all have our busy seasons. There will always be times when a big project or a tight deadline mean you need to put your head down and work, even when you don’t want to.

When that happens, you’re at risk for coworker envy. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean everyone else is. Especially during the summer time, your coworker could be counting down the minutes to a vacation just as you’re ramping up into productivity mode. That is especially true in a shared office or coworking space. When you work in a cubicle for a big firm, at least everyone is aware of the big projects or has the same busy seasons. In a coworking space full of freelancers and remote workers, your neighbor may be trying to scrape by in a lean month while you’re slammed with work and you may never know it!

That makes it all too easy for someone’s slow day to trigger a case of coworker envy. But here’s the thing: measuring yourself against someone else’s work load is only going to slow you down further and make it harder for you to finish that big, distasteful project. That’s because coworker envy is just another distraction, like social media, the laundry, or your kids. You know that being productive means you need to turn off those distractions. That’s probably why you got a coworking membership in the first place. So why let hard feelings toward someone who doesn’t even work for your company bog you down and make it harder to finish your work?

Tips to Avoiding Coworker Envy in the Coworking Space

If you’re coming to the coworking space to get work done, the last thing you need is for coworker envy to distract you and make everything take longer. So what can you do to fight the feeling that everyone is on vacation but you?

Schedule for Success

The first key to minimizing coworker envy is to manage your own schedule. If you feel like you are constantly behind the deadline it could be because you are doing too much, or need better organizational strategies. You may also find you need to adjust how and when you use your coworking membership benefits to make the most of your time at the office.

When are you the most productive at work? Are you the type to bang things out early? Or do you hit your stride right after lunch? Do you benefit from the buzz of other coworkers around you, or are you easily distracted by what they are doing?

Set yourself up at the PatchWork Collective in a space and time that makes the most of your best time. If you are a night owl, your membership allows you to come in after traditional office hours are over and work while the rest of the world sleeps. If you’re a morning person, you can use your key to come in early and get started even before the coffee starts brewing.

You can also choose a space that maximizes what you love about coworking. You can close yourself into a phone booth to avoid distractions, or get comfortable on a couch or beanbag. Do whatever it takes to set yourself up to be the most efficient.

Stepping Away is Okay

Sometimes doing what it takes means stepping away from a coworker whose vacation planning or casual attitude toward work are triggering coworking envy. And that’s okay. At PatchWork Collective, our members understand that we have a policy of putting work first and helping each other succeed. If you are in the middle of a big project, you can
ask them to talk about it some other time or step away to a different working space, or even a private office.

Did you know that every PatchWork Collective membership includes 6 hours of private office space per month? If you’re in the middle of a big, stressful project and need to work without distraction, that’s the perfect opportunity to use that time. Non-members need to schedule office use 24 hours in advance. But if you are a member and need to get away from distractions, you can hop online any time and sign out available space.

Communication is Key

If coworker envy continues to be a problem, it may be because you don’t really understand what is going on with the person you are envious of. The coworker in my example above is rarely at the coworking space after about 1:00 pm. I could let that bother me as I’m watching the clock tick down to 5:00. But because he and I have spoken, I know he generally works early. He may have been in the office by 6:30 that morning. And he may be working the weekend too.

In other situations, by communicating with that coworker you envy so much you could learn that they are struggling to find enough freelance work to pay their bills, or they may be juggling their work responsibilities with child care needs. Maybe that vacation they won’t stop talking about is the first time they’ve been out of the state in 5 years.

Assumptions create problems between coworkers in any environment. We naturally assume that what is true for us is true for others as well. Without open communication about our needs and expectations, we can all-too-easily fall into the trap of envying our coworkers for things they may not see as positive. Before you let coworker envy ruin your productivity and cause you stress, get to know that guy at the laptop bar. You may find you have more in common than you think.


PatchWork Collective is a coworking space with the heart of Ferndale. We make it our mission to give freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers a place to come together, collaborate, and get work done. If you want to know more about a membership at the PatchWork Collective, check out of Membership page, or schedule a tour to see the space for yourself.

Post Author: PatchWork

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