Cubicle Manners

You come back to your desk from a quick break and you find that someone has just rolled your chair away. Or worse, someone comes to meet your cubicle mate, occupies your chair and doesn’t even care to get up and offer it back to you, appearing completely oblivious to the fact that you have returned back to your desk. Does this bother you? Is that putting it mildly?

Our workstation is quickly emerging as our home away from home, as many of us end up spending more time in office than ever before. Just like stealing your chair, people talking loudly on speaker phones, talkative co-workers, wafts of strange smells coming from your neighboring cubicle, and many other such things can all contribute to distract you, leading to lower productivity. We spend most of our productive time in our cubicle; we are bound to become territorial about it. And such conflicts bound to happen with our co-workers at work places. Situations like these are quite common and there is nothing alarming about it. All it takes is a little consideration by employees towards others at their work place to resolve such issues.

The ability to work without distraction is the most important factor for individuals to be effective and stress free, and yet it is quite scarce a lot of the time in our work places. Our offices are extremely noisy – cramped work stations, people chatting away with each other, talking loudly on telephones, crunching away without guilt, borrowing things from each other’s desk without the colleague’s knowledge, cell phones ringing incessantly with Bollywood ringtones – the list is endless. Noise is the leading cause of reduced concentration levels; this inadvertently reduced individual’s productivity, and often, this leads to increased stress for the individual, and conflict with managers or supervisors as an extension to reduced productivity.

Since we don’t have the liberty to change the setup and design of workplace, could there not be ways to make our office environment more productive, comfortable and harmonious in some ways? How to enlighten that bad-mannered work-mate without offending? Here are few of the things to opt with a little grace and lot of good sense to help you.

Rules of Work-space Decorum

  1. No Frisbees in office

Standing up and tossing something to someone a few desks or cubes over like Frisbees is a capital ‘NO’. And so is poking head out of cubicles to survey the peers; managers and supervisors are often guilty of this. Such behaviour is quiet distracting. Even if the walls of your cubicles are low enough to gaze over, go around to the co-worker’s desk to give or take what you wanted. Do use office messengers to check if it’s the right time to go to your co-workers desk instead of barging straight to him.

  1. Have silent zones in offices

You aren’t expected to whisper, but just speak in low voice so that you don’t disturb others working around. Understand that everyone needs to pay attention to the task in front of them; their work is just as important as yours. They too need to perform at their full capacity to finish things before their deadline. Noise is not just talking loud, sending spam emails and continuously sending personal messages over office messengers is also a form of noise. Use office emails and communicators for business communication only.

  1. Handle your phone with care

When on long telephone calls, most put there phones on speakers and that’s understandable. But be considerate, go to a secluded corner of your office before turning the speaker ON; keep the volume as low as possible. The best thing you could do is use headphones. Playing games on smartphones to unwind may not seem like a bad idea, but go someplace private to disengage yourself. Also, you may be a music lover, but that doesn’t give you any rights to sing along or turn the volume up on your smartphone to listen to your favourite tunes. Once again, use headphones. Moreover, keep your phones on ‘silent’ or ‘vibrate’ mode; you certainly don’t want to be nuisance to your co-workers.

  1. In office, not all is public property

Walking into a momentarily vacant cubicle and picking up whatever you want (especially chairs) as if it’s your personal property is strict no-no. Just because the item is lying unattended doesn’t mean you can walk away with it. Even if the stapler, pen or notepad is owned by the company, you need to ask for it each time you require it. Also, return things promptly or let them know when they can expect to get it back. Your colleague will be happier to lend you whatever you may need in future.

  1. Wafts can be displeasing

You are busy and want to devote every minute at work to work; but remember, eating at your desk doesn’t make you super dedicated. Plus, eating involves crackling of wrappers, food aromas, smacking, chewing, crunching, gulping and lots of other sounds which might make your co-worker uncomfortable. Most offices have gyms now days. Using gyms for good health is a good idea but leaving behind sweaty gym shoes at your desk is not so good idea. Think about the foul smell of your sweat clad shoes. It would be revolting for you and others.

There could be many such rules of civility in office that you could follow to make your office environment pleasant for yourself and others. The list could be never exhaustive. But this is the least you could do to be civil towards your co-workers in office. Consider the above rules as a start line, the bare minimum, and add on more such rules as you go along to ensure a productive, comfortable and harmonious workplace for all.

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