Our human resource manager sent the following e-mail on cubicle etiquette to all employees of our law firm. I thought it's worth sharing.
Dear xxxxxx Associates:
Since cubicles were designed to maximize space and provide a semi-private office workspace for employees, etiquette for such space can sometimes be a gray area since cubicles lack doors. Furthermore, it is critical that employees develop a healthy respect for their co-workers. Below are 10 tips for cubicle etiquette and it is a great reminder to help all of us be aware of those around us and build strong bonds and foster productivity when working with colleagues in close quarters.
1. Be a courteous guest.
You'd never barge into another person's house unannounced so pretend that cubicles have front doors. Knocking gently on the side of the entrance allows the individual to signal whether he/she can afford to be disturbed at the moment. Showing that you respect other's time and privacy, and people will return the favor.
2. Use your "library voice".
In today's deadline-driven workplace, professionals must be able to concentrate on completing tasks without the constant fear of distraction. Whenever possible, use a quiet tone so you don't disrupt others.
3. Curb casual conversation.
While socializing in the office is natural and a great way to build camaraderie with co-workers, not everyone may want to know about the strange blind date you had last night. It's unprofessional and unproductive to spend more than few minutes talking about your personal life during office hours.
4. Stay home with the sniffles.
Suffering from an awful cold or flu? Do yourself- and your co-workers- a favor by staying home until you feel better. If you absolutely must come to work, be considerate and cautious when using communal office equipment. For instance, if you use the photocopier, clean it with a disinfectant wipe.
5. Have good scents.
Be mindful of your neighbors' noses before you let your tuna casserole waft through the office. Your co-workers may not share your love of Calvin Klein cologne or cranberry-scented candles, either.
6. Ask before borrowing.
Some people are protective of their office supplies. Respect that. Always ask permission prior to using someone's stapler or raiding a co-worker's supply of paper clips. What may seem like no big deal to you could be regarded as bothersome or disrespectful to others.
7. Avoid decor disasters.
Individuality is the spice of life. But err on the side of caution when decorating your workspace. For instance, don't put up potentially offensive calendars or political posters that may alienate others. Also, think twice before posting that beach picture from your Cancun vacation.
8. Hit the right tune.
You may work best when the music's blasting. But that doesn't mean everyone shares the same strategy. Wear headphones whenever you listen to CDs or the radio. And be sure not to sing or hum along to the chorus; save those melodies for your morning shower.
9. Avoid phone faux pas.
If you must leave your cell phone on during office hours, make sure that it is always with you and you have a standard, professional -sounding ringtone. Your neighbors might not appreciate being startled by "Dancing Queen" every 20 minutes.
10. Be friendly.
In today's fast-paced business environment, we sometimes forget the basics of professionalism. When you are away from your cube and pass someone in the hall, say 'hello' whether they are a friend or stranger. You both work for the same organization and you never know whose assistance you might need some day.
Remember that being a good neighbor is just as important on the job as it is at home. Exhibiting courtesy, tact and empathy in the workplace will help you build productive relationships and camaraderie with colleagues.