As any office worker may know, cubicle etiquette is very tricky to navigate. The biggest sins in any office cubicle environment are trying to take someone’s red stapler, hovering over the employee’s cubicle wall saying “ummm” and “yeaaah,” and bashing in your colleague’s printer with a baseball bat. Well, that last one may not be too bad if it keeps hiccupping anytime you need to print something imperative.
We have a love-hate relationship with cubicles. On one hand, we tend to connect cubicles with a soul-sucking entity from the deep recesses of space. On the other, we much prefer cubicles to the 21st-century open concept office spaces that modern-day businesses are talking about.
If the cubicle is here to stay, especially in your office, then it’s important to start thinking about how to be polite, respectful, and a model worker, like Frank Grimes or postal workers from the 1990s. Here are eight office cubicle etiquette practices to employ:
1. Keep Your Cubicle Clean
How many times have you walked by a co-worker’s cubicle and wondered, “Did wild animals just finish an eight-hour shift here?” There is nothing more frustrating than working in a messy, unkempt, and smelly environment. But, remember, this type of workspace is a personal choice – you don’t need to clock in your eight hours and completing a wide variety of tasks in filth.
A good office etiquette rule is that you should keep your office cubicle clean at all times. And, even if you are a neat and tidy individual, it would still be a good idea to be a little bit more diligent in removing bacteria, organising papers, and putting garbage in the waste bin.
2. Culinary Common Sense in the Cubicle
Let’s be honest: not everyone shares your affinity for butter chicken or baked trout. It may smell divine to you, but it isn’t exactly endearing to others.
What does this mean? Well, you should apply some culinary common sense to your lunch and snack options, particularly if you are eating in your cubicle. For good cubicle etiquette, something neutral is always best – sandwiches, salads, a box of chocolate chip cookies, and a 12-can case of Coca-Cola.
3. Knock on the Cubicle Before Entry
There is nothing more annoying than somebody who decides to waltz into a cubicle uninvited. They then saunter around the workspace, fiddle around with papers, and sit on filing cabinets. It’s irksome. Are you guilty of it? Let’s hope not. If you are, it is imperative to knock first before entry.
4. Beware the Cubicle Fiend
The prairie dog is an interesting beast. They have zero disregard for your personal space, they are uncouth, and some could make the argument that they’re disrespect. No, we’re not talking about little Fido. A prairie dog is an employee who pops up over their neighbour’s wall and begins to chit chat or just stare at them. It’s bothersome and rude.
5. Ditch the Speakerphone
If you thought speaking loudly on a smartphone was perturbing, then you may not have heard someone talking on a speakerphone. This can be annoying because it often involves the person being really loud, a lot of static on one end, and everyone being distracted and eaves dropping on the phone call.
If your position relies on using the telephone, it would be a good idea to invest in a headset.
6. You’re Not Ella Fitzgerald
We all need our own beats when we work. It helps us stay awake and survive the day. Whether you’re impartial to Ella Fitzgerald and 1950s jazz or you’re a fan of Giuseppe Verdi operas, it would be a fantastic idea to avoid singing along. This will not only embarrass you, it can also both others.
7. Don’t ‘Borrow’ From Others
Are you the office borrower? If you keep “borrowing” a pen there, a stapler here, and an office tablet every now and then, and you never return these items, then you are indeed the office borrower. And, believe us, that is not a good designation to have. Moving forward, just don’t do it and bring your own supplies to the office.
8. DOD on Cubicle
Do you have a 4:30 p.m. deadline? Do you want to fully concentrate on your task? Do you just want to keep to yourself today? Well, by pasting a do not disturb (DOD) sign on the front of your cubicle entrance, you can improve the chances of not being disturbed by all of your peers.
Just think of your cubicle like a hotel room.
Your neighbour has been trying to open the same candy bar wrapper for the last 20 minutes. You can hear a colleague at the other end of the room gabbing away on their speakerphone. A foul odour is emanating from Joe’s cubicle near the window. Cubicle life is an interesting one, but it’s time to make it less riveting by employing simple etiquette practices to ensure you don’t become the enemy of the office space. You never go full enemy at the office!