Cubicle Etiquette

Do you have annoying coworkers that don’t let you go through your day being as productive as you can?

If you constantly find yourself putting off little fires around the office, jumping from one task to another, loosing concentration and always behind schedule, it might be time to cut off cubicle interruptions.

From the coffee-mug-holder coworker that suddenly pops up through the partition to talk about what his children did during the weekend to the annoying mid forties woman that laughs loudly while gossiping on the speaker phone, all are interruptions. Here are a few cubicle etiquette guidelines to minimize interruptions and be more considered to your coworkers.

Keep it down
I remember having a project manager talking trash to a contractor in a loud tone. Why? She wanted to sound busy and on top of the project. Reality was, she was disorganized and never plan ahead. Many people put a lot of effort looking busy and even worst, sounding busy. Managers know better. A loud voice makes working conditions difficult for your cubicle neighbors. It makes listening to a concurrent telephone conversation difficult – I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I’m having some background noise. –

Get rid of everything that has speakers – not everybody likes your music. Some people even find it difficult to concentrate if music that they even like is playing. Use earphones instead. The same applies to speaker phones. I still haven’t been able to figure out what is the purpose of the speakerphone. One might think this is convenient because it allows you to type and talk at the same time. Ask the person to send you an email instead, take notes, get to the point and hang up. There is really no reason for speakerphones.

Good Vibrations
When at work, I always set my cellular in silent mode. I put it next to my laptop or inside my pocket. I have taught my relatives to send me text messages if they want me to call them after I’m done with work. If it is an emergency they will text me and leave a message. Most of my friends know I won’t answer the phone and very often they leave a message that I hear a few minutes later to evaluate how quickly should I call back.

Turn Down the Volume
If you receive several phone calls per day, it is annoying for your neighbors to ne listening to a loud ring the hold day. Lower the volume of your telephone ring as much as possible as a consideration to your coworkers.

Let’s get together. Conference Rooms
I have always been opposed to meetings. Eighty percent of meetings are; unnecessary ways to make someone look important and, time waster. Meetings should NEVER be held in your cubicle. Reserve conference rooms in advance for meetings with potential clients, contractors or designers.

Try to keeping meetings to a minimum items and as short as possible. Send an email with meeting agendas, Q&A, and reports in advance to attendees. Keep meetings under thirty minutes and never, ever have a cubicle meeting.

Quit sugar. I believe sugar plays a big role regarding interruptions. Most people can seat still and will find any excuse to walk around and interrupt someone else. Do not just pop up into someone’s cubicle just because there is no door and you just need some attention.

Always consider other’s time and space. Send an email if your request can wait.

Batch requests of information – Throughout the day you will need different people’s feedback. Start creating emails at the beginning for each person. Don’t send the email until a few hours before the day is over. Keep adding, rewriting and or eliminating items you might not need to know. If it is urgent call the person and explains why it is urgent to have him/her sign a document, then stop by for the signature.

Hey You! Interruption
Weaving at someone and/or using sign language it is just pure laziness. Wait for the person to be done with the task at hand. Stop being reactive and start been proactive.

Confidential matters
Another reason to schedule meeting rooms is to keep important information confidential. The thin walls of your cubicle don’t prevent people from listening to your conversations.

Perhaps, one rule of cubicle etiquette many don’t consider is odors and smells interruptions. It is very annoying to work around people that wear to much cologne, aftershave or perfume. This strong smells can get allergic coworkers to sniff creating noise.

Don’t eat at your cubicle. Strong smelling food can off putting other coworkers.

Self promotion is a skill many cubicle people don’t consider in a working environment. Keep your cubicle clean, tidy and uncluttered. This says a lot about how much in charge you are of your work. Start by eliminating unnecessary objects and pictures. Show to other how professional you are by been organized and focused. Your desk organization is a reflection how your mind effectiveness.

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