The era of the cubicle worker puts you in close, sometimes uncomfortable contact with your fellow cubicle mates. Not all interactions with your fellows are bound to be pleasant; close cubicle contact is bound to bring out the worst in some people.
Phyllis Davis, the President of Executive Mentoring and Coaching, has heard all the cubicle horror stories – she lays them all out in the video above. “The most common complaints about cubicle-mates is if they use speaker phones instead of using headsets,” she explains. “And then if a cubicle mate in the office has music on while they are on hold – that’s really annoying.”
“Shouldn’t you be doing that at home” issues are also a big bugbear for cubicle dwellers, in Davis’ experience – “People clipping their nails in the office cubicle, or having deep coughs in the office cubicle instead of going in the washroom, or people having fights with their spouses on the phone are also big annoyances.”
Before you nod in smug recognition, you should be aware that you’re just as visible to your cubicle mates as they are to you – for all you know, your own impression isn’t so hot to your fellow cubicle mates!
Whatever impressions you make on your fellow cubicle mates are based on how you interact with them. Your professionalism is judged depending on how effectively you can work while remaining considerate of their feelings. The cubicle ideas that follow should help you navigate this difficult, though ultimately rewarding, task.
Eating in your cubicle. Not everybody loves the smell of cheeseburger wafting through the cubicle maze. Not everyone appreciates the sounds of potato chips being crunched in the next used cubicle over. But some companies permit this – if in doubt, ask.
“It’s appropriate to eat in an office cubicle if that’s part of your corporate culture,” explains Ms. Davis. “People complain a lot about people that create a mess and a smell that causes bugs to come in, so it’s okay to eat in your office cubicle as long as you clean up well.”
Come on, feel the noise. The cloth-covered cubicle walls may absorb sound to a point, but you do not sit in a soundproof chamber when you’re in your cubicle. Your voice/cellphone ringtone/MP3 collection carries further than you think it does!
Don’t use your speakerphone in your cubicle. The speakerphone is one of those cubicle accessories beloved by everyone except your neighbors – for good reason!
You don’t want your cubicle mates to hear you telling your doctor about that wart that’s got you worried, or about the deal that’s falling through. Don’t give those occupying a neaby used cubicle ideas about your personal life, based on your loud phone conversations. If you have to talk on your phone, keep your voice down.
Use a headset to listen to your music. Not everybody’s a fan of Black Sabbath, and not everyone within listening range of your cubicle is willing to give your music a listen!
Keep your cellular phone on vibrate when in your cubicle. Better yet, turn it off. Some cubicle ideas are meant to be kept to yourself!
Invading space. Even for a cubicle with no doors (with some exceptions – cubicle doors make handy cubicle accessories), privacy must be respected. Knock before entering a colleague’s used cubicle, and don’t interrupt them when they’re on the phone or even just thinking. Don’t hang about and make them feel uncomfortable.
Don’t just borrow staplers and other cubicle accessories without permission – that’s just asking for trouble.
Remember, that cubicle isn’t really yours (unless you bought the used cubicle and you’re paying the electricity, cubicle accessories, and other expenses to keep your office going). You share it with a lot of other colleagues who want to work in peace and coexist tranquilly with cubicle mates like yourself. Following these cubicle ideas and cubicle etiquette rules may help make a great impression on your cubicle mates and keep the office cubicle atmosphere conducive to producing great work.
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