Coworking in San Francisco: 11 Tips to Thrive in a Shared Space

By NextSpace on May. 26, 2017

Written by Cat Johnson

San Francisco is a hotbed for coworking, with dozens of spaces found in the city. But in a city of 870,000 people, how does one find the right coworking space? And once you’ve found the space that suits you, how do you thrive in it?

I asked Christine Dang, community manager at NextSpace SOMA for her best tips for coworking in San Francisco. Here’s what I found. 

1. Location is Key

Access to transit is a huge perk for coworkers in San Francisco. Dang says NextSpace members really like the location of the space, which is close to BART stations.

“We’re kind of in the heart of SOMA,” she says, explaining that members leave the space four or five times a day because they’re going to meetings or appointments around the city that they can access easily from the spaces.

2. Be Clear About What You Need

 Dang advises making a list of the three things you really need and why you’re interested in coworking.

“Did you try the cafe scene,” she asks. “Why did it work or not? Why can’t you work at home? Do you need social interaction? Are you looking for a community?”

These questions will help you determine whether you’re the right fit for coworking. 

3. Find a Professional Space

People use coworking spaces in the city as hubs for their own meetings. They bring guests and clients in and lots of connections are made that way. Make sure your coworking space has meeting rooms, phone booths and professional spaces that will let you do your best work.

4. What Amenities Are Offered?

As Dang points out, San Francisco is a “huge coffee city.” She jokes that coffee may be essential rather than an amenity. If coffee is important to you, make sure the space offers good coffee and that it’s freely available. Other amenities to look for are a high-quality printer and scanner, a kitchen and mail options. 

5. Is the Staff Accommodating?

Make sure the coworking space team is flexible about what they can offer to members. Dang and the NextSpace staff try to be “really accommodating,” which is why people like NextSpace, she says. “The community managers do a good job of being empathetic listeners, then really sussing out members’ needs and being able to accommodate on the fly.” 

6. Reach Out and Make Connections

Whether you’re new member or a day passer, introduce yourself to the community manager of the space you’re in, have a conversation about what you’re doing and take a tour of the space. The tour is a great opportunity for community managers to introduce you to existing members.

If you’d rather reach out to people on your own, start with the kitchen or just say "hi" to people, advises Dang.

“One of the key places to meet people is the kitchen,” she says. “There’s constant high traffic around the coffee machine. I also see a lot of people just sit down and say hello and get into a conversation in the open seating area.”

Coworking In San Francisco 2

7. Attend Events

See whether the coworking space has community events, and when they’re after hours or throughout the day. Check out the space’s event calendar and attend those that interest you to get to know the community.

8. Boost Your Productivity

Coworking has been found to make people more productive, even in a busy space. Make sure your coworking space has several different seating and volume options.

“People should utilize the space by jumping around to different areas to figure out where they’re most productive,” says Dang. “Some members are more the quiet type, so we have couches. If you need your own space, we have little cafe desks that just seat one. I think it’s important to set your butt down in different places all around the office.”

Dang adds that to stay productive you should get out and walk around. This will keep your brain and body fresh and keep you from getting stir crazy from being inside all day.

9. Wellness and Work/Life Balance

When asked for her best tips on creating work/life balance, Dang says that, in San Francisco, “your work is your life.”

“People are so passionate all the time,” she explains. “When they come to the space, their way of unwinding is to go to a network event or a Meetup.”

She adds that the cool part about coworking is that “these are not your coworkers,” so it’s okay to ask fellow members to go get a drink or to grab lunch with you.

“It’s such a good way to unwind,” she says, “because you don’t have to talk about work constantly.” 

10. Can You Host Events?

NextSpace offers meeting room time to members and does its best to promote events that benefit the entire community. In San Francisco, NextSpace also offers members one free after hours event in the main space each year.

“We designate a certain floor where people can throw their own mixers, panels or Meetups,” says Dang. “We welcome people to do something in the space.”

11. Why NextSpace?

San Francisco is a tech-driven city. There are coworking spaces that are very specialized and there are coworking spaces where tech startups dominate the space. NextSpace offers diverse communities made up of people of all ages and from various industries.

“What’s the likelihood that you’re going to meet a patent lawyer in a WeWork?” says Dang, “it might be a small chance, but, here at NextSpace, we have quite a range of professions, including the travel industry, freelance writers, Ph. D students that work out of the space, lawyers, accountants and healthcare consultants.” She adds that with coworking at NextSpace, you feel like everyone is open to talking and making connections.

NextSpace offers community-driven coworking in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and Chicago. To learn more and schedule a tour, contact us at nextspace.us.

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