We’ve been floating the idea of a co-working space guide for months. Every few weeks the BYT staff chats about the dos and don’ts, the rights and wrong of our office work space. We start and stop work on it because it all seems obvious.
You should not need a co-working space guide. You know how to behave.
You know it’s inappropriate to put your feet on the furniture.
You know it’s inconsiderate to take phone calls outside phone booths.
You know the kitchen is a public space and not a personal work area.
You know food and drink that you didn’t bring to work is not OK for you to eat and drink.
You know microwaving fish is mean.
You know what you’re supposed to do but sometimes it’s easier to do whatever you want without thinking of others. The golden rule should be enough for the co-working space guide.
But there’s one aspect of most every co-working space that has inspired debate: the free beer.
Is it a good idea to drink the free beer?
Drinking beer is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Unlike microwaved fish, free beer on tap at the co-working space actually can bring people together. But when is it appropriate?
Co-working space beer is very different than regular office space free beer. Co-working spaces are for more than one company. Therefore, the beer isn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be used as a way to keep people working longer hours. The co-working space beer is essentially a happy hour without having to go to a bar for happy hour, at least that’s what we think is the point.
The people that work for BYT do not typically drink the beer at the co-working space. The consensus is it’s good that free beer is around when you have an evening appointment that’s a little later than normal. So if one of us has an 8 p.m. meeting downtown, a beer around 6 p.m. makes sense.
But what about the person drinking beer in the morning? Is that wrong? Should that person be ostracized? Admired? Questioned about their potential alcoholism? It’s a difficult question with no clear answer. We want to say live and let live, but should we really be saying take it one day at a time?
Lunch time could go either way. Beer around noon on a Friday seems fine. Beer around noon on a Monday seems odd. But if it’s not your co-working space, if you’re a guest of someone (or one of those people who just hang out in other’s co-working spaces because why spend money when you can hang out where there’s free beer?), beer around noon on a Monday seems like an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.
What if you’re broke? If you’re broke, drink all of the beer without shame. We are in no way attempting to shame interns or young people or old people or somewhere in the middle people that aren’t rolling in dough. Hell, bring in a growler and stock up at home.
What if you’re the boss? Don’t drink the beer. Or at least don’t force your employees to drink with you. Lucky for us, we do not have this beer drinking atmosphere. But some of us have worked for employers that do ‘encourage’ mandatory beer fun.
There is no good rule for the free beer at co-working spaces. That’s our conclusion. Everything else is common sense. Now, please take your feet off the furniture and take your calls in a phone booth.