Nowadays, many entrepreneurs choose not to rent a large office space. Rather, many enterprises
work in a spare bedroom, garage, basement or another one- or two-room office space. Many cost-conscious
business owners are even opting for an open-office plan where multiple staff members work
together in a large room.
It would be ideal if each person could have his or her private office, but that is often unrealistic
and extremely costly. Therefore, to create peace and harmony a few rules of etiquette should be observed.
1. Respect another’s need to work.
Just because others are sitting nearby doesn’t mean they are available for conversation
at all times. Respect one another’s privacy. Act as if there is a door between you and if they
appear to be busy, ask if they have a moment to talk.
2. Be aware of smells.
Within a tight space smells can be magnified, so use consideration when packing your lunch
or snacks. Try to eat meals in the kitchen, break room or outside, rather than at your desk.
Since many people have allergies to scents, forgo wearing perfumes, cologne or strong after
shave to the office. Pay attention to your personal grooming as well. Unfortunately, common sense is
not so common anymore.
3. Keep noise and distractions to a minimum.
Noisy conversations (either between workers or on the telephone) or habits such as tapping on
the desk, fidgeting or getting up and down often can create an annoying distraction to those trying to
concentrate. If you want to listen to music, podcasts or videos, use headphones or ear buds.
4. Be tidy.
Your messy desk can be a distraction to others and will detract from the professional image your
organization is trying to establish. Keep your belongings confined to your own personal space and
tidy up your immediate area each day before leaving work. If you share a desk, be sure to clear
away any personal items like coffee cups and office supplies.
5. Respect another’s space.
Just because another’s workspace is within reach of your desk doesn’t make it common domain.
Treat each person’s space as if it was a private office. Do not help yourself to anything on their
desk or in their area. Ask first or go to the supply closet if you need a pen or a stapler.
6. Don’t come to work sick.
When you work in close quarters, it is easy to transfer germs. Stay home if you are sick.
It’s good hygiene to cover your mouth when you cough, keep hand sanitizer on hand, don’t
leave used tissues around, and wipe down the desk, computer keyboard and phone from
time to time to help prevent germs from spreading.
7. Be considerate.
Respect is key when working in an open-office environment. Act respectful and expect
others to act in the same way. Set rules of conduct and reiterate boundaries when they
are crossed. It’s best to address problems and concerns directly and diplomatically before they escalate.
8. Be tolerant.
The open-office environment brings together myriad personalities, with different
styles. Be tolerant of these differences and find ways to adapt. Everyone is not going
to agree with you one hundred percent of the time. Keep an open mind, listen with
the intent to learn and focus on the positive aspects of your job.
9. Think like a team.
In order to maintain a cohesive team, do not spread gossip, cause another to feel
like an outcast, or grumble about petty things. Hold regular meetings to set goals,
share ideas and talk about concerns.
When the rules of open-office etiquette are observed, camaraderie, communication and collaboration will ensue.