The Cubicle: Etiquette for Everyone

Working in a cubicle isn’t easy – it’s supposed to create privacy and freedom from distraction, while still building a sense of team, but often can be a source of irritation, especially when the neighboring cubicle owner has lost all sense off office etiquette. So, whether you’re the one who needs a personal reminder, or you need a sheet to post on your neighbor’s desk, here are some tips for proper cubicle protocol.
Respect and courtesy: make these the bywords that govern your behavior and your conversation.

Skip the eavesdropping habit: If you can hear the conversation in the next cubicle – or at least their half of a phone call, do your best to block it out and focus your attention elsewhere. Sometimes you can’t avoid hearing what’s happening, but when you do, treat it as confidential information and never – absolutely never – answer a question you overhear.

Treat cubicles like private offices: Just because there isn’t a door, you don’t have the right to walk-in. Knock on the wall and request your coworker’s attention. If you arrive at their cubicle to discover he/she is on the phone, come back later. Leave a post-it note on the “wall” if you have to, but don’t “stand and wait”. And never – absolutely never – attempt to read their computer screen or any papers on their desks.
Avoid using your cubicle for private conversations – they aren’t private: If you must have a confidential meeting with a coworker, find another place in the building or meet outside the office. Skip the “hallway” conversations – or at least keep them short, quiet, and to a minimum. Never – absolutely never – hold a group discussion and/or committee meeting in your cubicle.

Phone courtesy: When you must have a conversation in your office – on the phone or with a coworker, speak in low tones, but don’t whisper. Skip “code” talk – if you need to use it, save the conversation for another time and place. Turn your phone volume to low or vibrate – if you leave your cell in the cubicle when you leave momentarily, turn all sounds off. If you are on a call that incites your anger, save the screaming for when you are out of the office. And never – absolutely never –set your phone to speaker.

Maintain a quiet atmosphere: If you listen to music – use earbuds. If you need to talk to yourself – do it in your head. Pay attention to seemingly insignificant noises (they aren’t) like tearing or wadding paper, clicking your pen, tapping the beat to the music you are listening to on earbuds, etc. Be especially conscious of body noises – like eating (go to the lunchroom to eat), nose blowing, yawning, gum or ice chewing, slurping – you get the picture. No one else wants to hear them and never – absolutely never – flatulate in your cubicle.

Establish common “rules” for the office cubicles: No hanging over the top of cubicles to talk or calling across the walls. If you stop at your coworker’s cubicle and they are presently gone, don’t wait; leave a note. Establish a “do not disturb” code and never – absolutely never – interrupt your coworker when they have enacted it.

In reality, all of these tips are a matter of common courtesy and respect. You may not have your own private office, but if you follow these guidelines, you will gain respect and favor among fellow cubicle “owners”. Contact Springborn today. We hire/place candidates – especially those who understand cubicle etiquette – with top companies in Bangor and Portland, Maine every day.

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