Cubicle Courtesies

Many organizations have embraced the idea of open work environments.

Cubicles are a convenient idea because they save space and money. Besides, these small work spaces allow for easy collaboration between teams. However, employees working in cubicles know that frequent interruptions, distractions and lack of privacy go hand in hand with such environments.

There are many etiquette guidelines to consider when working in a cubicle environment.

Here are my top 10 etiquette guidelines for cubicle users:

  1. Remember that sound travels: Reduce noise to minimum so it does not disturb other workers. This means keeping a cell phone on vibrate and using the speaker phone only if absolutely necessary or not at all! Also, do away with the noisy e-mail alerts which can disturb other cubicle mates.
  2. Answer desk phones quickly: In maximum of two rings. Adjust you ringer volume to an appropriate level.
  3. Use an appropriate tone: Speak on the phone or with someone at your desk as if you are in a library.
  4. Take visitors to another area: If you have a visitor staying in your cubicle for longer than a few minutes, take the discussion to another area of the office that does not disturb others.
  5. Keep snacking to minimum: Crunching noises or the aroma of fries can be distracting for a cubicle mate who is trying to get some important work done.
  6. Avoid group discussions near your cubicle: A meeting room is the appropriate place for such matters.
  7. Maintain privacy and confidentiality: Occasionally every worker will hear or see something they ought not to. It is therefore polite not to repeat them as quite often things are not what they seem.
  8. Think that cubicles have walls: Don’t pop over the top of the cubicle partition and look into another’s cubicle or shout out a question or an answer to a colleague on the other side.
  9. Think that cubicles have doors: Never enter someone’s cubicle space without receiving ‘eye contact permission’ from its occupant. If a colleague appears busy, pretend that the cubicle has a door which is closed and he or she is in a meeting with the manager.
  10. Keep your cubicle clean: Working in cubicles means that you must contribute to the cleanliness of the area by keeping your workstation organized and clutter free.

Cubicle etiquette is about practicing behaviors that create goodwill in the workplace so that petty issues and disturbances do not get blown up into a destructive environment that no one can benefit from.

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