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Top 10 Open Office Etiquette Rules For The Modern Workplace

Top 10 Open Office Etiquette Rules For The Modern Workplace

workplace-etiquette-open-officeIt’s no secret that office environments have changed leaps and bounds over the last 20 years or so. One need only watch the movie “Office Space” followed by the movie “The Intern” to see just how much. Office cultures are under constant flux; with a growing interest in collaboration, influences from Silicon Valley, and many corporations opting for a flatter corporate structure, companies are knocking down walls and installing treadmill desks, collaboration rooms and nap spaces.

There’s no denying it – the open office environment has arrived and appears to be here to stay, at least for now. In many ways, this new environment offers a plethora of positive outcomes, such as higher transparency, more willingness to collaborate, and higher levels of accountability. However, this big shift can come with a host of negative consequences as well, namely employees not adjusting “adequately” to their new surroundings.

In this post, we’ve highlighted the top nine etiquette rules that need to be taken into consideration for employees moving into a new office space. Here they are:

  1. Keep short visits, well, short

All too often, in this environment, there is an urge to simply yell out a question to a colleague across the room. This is rude and distracting to others! If you need to talk to a colleague, go to where they are. In addition, keep it short – there are others around, and your conversation can act as a distraction to them.

  1. No egg salad for lunch, please

Many business professionals these days do not take a proper lunch, but rather eat at their desk. That is fine, but remember it’s not just you that has to deal with your *fragrant* egg salad sandwich you brought…

  1. It may be your desk, but it’s not your desk

When you had your own office, you had photos, tchotchkes and bobble heads lining your desk. That was fine, but unfortunately it’s not anymore. Your workspace says a lot about you, and now that your privacy is not what it used to be, be sure to keep a clean, tidy, professional workspace.

  1. What if you need some privacy?

There will come times when you need to take a sensitive call or need to focus whole-heartedly on the task at hand. In an open-office environment, is that even possible?? Yes! Simply make (or buy) a sign that reads something like “Time to Focus – Please Try Again Later” and place on your desk or cubicle wall.

  1. A phone call with the president

You have a highly confidential phone call with an important client. Do you take it at your desk, with 7 people within earshot? Probably not a great idea. Perhaps it’s best you find a quiet, secluded area for your phone call. The same goes with confidential documents – do not leave them on your desk for all to see!

  1. Is your ringtone Lady Gaga’s newest release?

All of your devices should be on vibrate or silent, so as not to distract everyone else. If you love to listen to music when you work, that’s great, but wear your headphones!

  1. Avoid the urge to gossip

Gossiping at work, whether in an open-office environment or not, is never ok. However, the effects can be pronounced in this new open space. Keep your conversations within the office professional – save the gossiping for after hours (or never!).

  1. Clean up after yourself, Gordon Ramsey!

The shared kitchen space is great, but it’s exactly that – shared! Be sure to tidy up after yourself to the point that your presence there should be completely unnoticeable. The same goes for other public shared spaces around the office.

  1. I love Chanel No. 5 too, but…

Many people these days are allergic, or sensitive, to perfumes. Please be courteous and if you must wear perfume or cologne, keep it to one spritz. People should not be able to smell your scent unless they are standing directly beside you.

  1. If you’re sick, take a sick day

There is nothing worse than spending the whole day sitting beside, or across, from someone who’s coughing, sniffling and sneezing. If you’re not in the best shape, remember that in this new office environment, you will be in close proximity to many other people. Staying home will not make you appear weak, lazy or undedicated, but rather respectful towards your coworkers.

Moving to an open-office environment can be a big change for many people; not only a physical change, but a mental one as well. It comes with changes in privacy, etiquette and behaviour. It can be a tough transition, however if you take into account the above, the transition will be much smoother for you, as well as your coworkers!

For more information on workplace etiquette, check out our new set of courses offered in our private boardroom!

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