April 2, 2018
Today’s office environments often range from high-wall cubicles to open, shared-desk flexible work arrangements. Making that environment work for everyone can be a challenge.
Being a good cubicle-mate comes down to respect for those around you.
Open office space provides little to no privacy. Keep your private conversations private by booking an office or conference room. If your call is of a personal nature, make it away from your desk during a lunch or coffee break, or if it can wait, after work hours.
Personal grooming habits should be kept in check. Clipping nails is inappropriate at your desk. Go to the restroom if there is something that needs to be attended to right away.
In the same vein, be aware that those around you may be sensitive to smells – limit or avoid the use of colognes and perfumes.
Food smells can also be disruptive and linger. If you must eat at your desk, maybe the pungent leftovers from last night’s dinner are not the best choice. Disposing of food and containers should be done in a lunchroom or somewhere where the smell does not become irritating to others.
Often workers will listen to music but not everyone shares the same tastes or can work with music. Use earphones when listening to music or attending online sessions. When a co-worker approaches, remove your earphones and give them the courtesy of your full attention.
Speakerphone conversations should be kept to a minimum. If a group conversation is necessary, consider scheduling a conference call or move the call to a more private office area so as not to disrupt others.
Nobody likes to be looked down on or hovered over so avoid “prairie-dogging” – popping up to look over the cubicle wall to see what your neighbour is up to. If you want to initiate a conversation, walk over to their desk and knock as if the cubicle was an actual office.
Don’t assume that because someone doesn’t look busy, that they’re not. They may be working a problem through in their mind before taking action. If you want their attention, politely knock or ask if they have a minute to talk.
Keep your space clean and professional-looking. Personal items can make the space more comfortable but remember that others, including your managers, will see whatever is on display so it must be work-appropriate.
Respect that someone’s cubicle is the little bit of privacy that someone has at work. Just because something is in plain sight does not make it communal property. Ask before borrowing or taking something.
The key word to working well with others in an open environment is “respect”. Remember that it takes all kinds of personalities to make the world go around and not everyone will get along but showing a bit of courtesy can make everyone’s workday a bit more enjoyable.
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