How-To Work in an Open Office Environment

Many open office faux pas can be avoided with simple common sense. Try to talk in moderate tones to not disturb other workers. Don’t eat smelly food at your desk. Keep your area tidy. But common culprits of organizational conflict can be even more minor. If you work in an open environment, here are adjustments your office mates will appreciate:

  • How-To Work in an Open Office EnvironmentMute notifications on your mobile device and computer. Everyone does not need to know when you receive a text or have an upcoming meeting.
  • Don’t interrupt your coworkers just because they’re there. Not everyone wants to hear about the exciting email you just received or stop what they’re doing for an impromptu brainstorming session. If you wouldn’t walk downstairs to talk to someone, it’s a topic that can probably wait.
  • Follow group norms when it comes to earbuds. In some open environments, workers will listen to music or white noise all day long. In others, the expectation may be that workers’ ears are free should a customer need assistance. Don’t be the one person doing their own thing.
  • Stay home when you’re sick. In addition to not spreading your germs, coworkers will appreciate a reprieve from hearing you blow your nose and cough all day.  
  • Don’t borrow other people’s things without asking. Just like you wouldn’t take something out of a person’s office, don’t assume the Post-Its, pens, or Kleenex box on the desk across from you are fair game.
  • Minimize personal calls. If you need to book a dentist appointment, fine. But if you’re in an argument with your sister over how to spend the holidays, save the conversation for non-work hours or take it someplace private.
  • Don’t let frustrations fester. In any office setting, a worker is going to have gripes about coworkers’ behavior. In an open concept those might be exacerbated, so if someone is annoying you or you want to set group norms, open a dialogue before tensions mount.
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