Cubicle etiquette is essential if coworkers are to coexist peacefully and have a productive day. It’s part of good business etiquette. If you’re a cubicle dweller, you know the positives to this work arrangement—a more connected staff and sense of camaraderie. But, also there are negatives and challenges—a lack of privacy, more interruptions, and increased noise level.
True, most people would prefer the empty office down the hall, the one with a river view. But, until then, here are three secrets for successful cubicle dwelling. These ground rules and etiquette tips will help all cubicle dwellers feel more productive as well as neighborly.
- Prioritize privacy. Never enter someone’s cubicle without permission. Knock softly on the cubicle wall or announce yourself at their doorway. Then wait for a response—either verbally or via a nod of the head—from the occupant before entering. If he or she is on the phone, don’t loiter outside their cube waiting; go back a few minutes later. Never “borrow” supplies from someone else’s cubicle just because there’s no door. Avoid reading what’s on someone’s computer screen. Remember, no phone call is truly private. Take personal calls in another room or outside. Meet with visitors in a conference room rather than in your cubicle. Avoid taking calls when you have a visitor to respect the caller’s privacy.
- Ditch distractions. Use ear buds when listening to music. Try to pick up the phone after one or two rings; and turn the ring volume to the lowest setting. Resist using screensaver sound effects. Avoid putting conference calls on speakerphone; use a conference room instead. When away from your cubicle, set your phone to take voice messages. If leaving your cell phone behind while you go down the hall for coffee, place it on off or vibrate.
- Show respect. Don’t keep people from their work by stopping by for long chats. Even if you don’t have a busy day, someone else may. Resist eavesdropping over the cubicle wall or bringing up anything you overhear from a neighbor’s conversation; it makes you appear nosy and unfocused on your own work. Don’t have impromptu meetings outside someone’s cubicle; brainstorm in a conference room or break room instead. Use good taste when decorating cubicle walls with posters and pictures. Eat smelly foods in the kitchen, not in your cubicle. Use the restroom to floss, clip your nails, or fix the chip in your manicure. Don’t hang coats or other items over cubicle walls. Invest in a small corner-size coat tree.
By following these tips, you’ll enhance your professional image and gain the respect of coworkers. Not only that, you and your cubicle dwellers will co-exist as good neighbors and have a productive day.