Cubicle Etiquette Is Key

They call it a cube farm, but sometimes it’s more like a zoo. Office workers sitting at desks in close proximity behind short partitions. The atmosphere can devolve into mayhem. Sometimes the general hubbub isn’t what’s so bad. It’s the stuff going on in the cubicles next door, from the loud phone conversations to the unwelcome effect of a co-worker kicking off his shoes. Worthington Direct features cubicles, room dividers, desks and chairs that maximize office space while still providing a comfortable, functional work environment.

Cubicles make you “accessible, vulnerable and more likely to intrude on the space of others, if you’re not careful,” said Susan Fenner, professional development manager with the International Association of Administrative Professionals in Kansas City. And the workplace trend toward maximum use of precious office space isn’t going away, she said. In other words, don’t hold your breath for a corner office, or any office.

Here’s a short handbook, compiled from suggestions by Fenner and others, about how to be a good cubicle neighbor. We’ve tentatively titled it, “Don’t Clip Your Fingernails and Other Rules for Cubicle Harmony.”

•Do not barge into someone’s cubicle space. Seek permission with a “knock” on the partition. Or try for some eye contact that tells you, “Yes, I can talk now.”

•As a passer-by, refrain from glancing into everyone’s space, craning your neck to see over partitions or staring at computer screens, thank you very much.

•Go to the supply closet rather than “borrow” office provisions from other people’s desks.

•Even though you can clearly hear others’ phone conversations, they are private. Don’t comment or ask questions about them.

•Leave voice mail or an e-mail (or drop a handwritten note) when you want to talk to someone who’s on the phone. It’s not cool to stare at them until they hang up.

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