When you work with the same people day after day, month after month, sometimes people can become so familiar with each other that they can start to act quite disrespectfully. Think that you’re being unreasonably uptight with your coworkers? Or maybe the offender is actually you? Here’s an etiquette checklist.

Cubicle etiquette 101

Private office space is eroding and cubicles are here to stay. Some people feel this makes teams more effective, while others find it a total invasion of personal space. To maintain a professional atmosphere follow these do’s and don’ts of cubicle etiquette.

    • Don’t discuss personal or confidential matters. It is very easy to be overheard. Have sensitive issue conversations in a private office or on your cell phone during a break away from the office environment.


    • Don’t barge into cubicles. Knock on the inside of the cubicle wall and even say “knock, knock” or “Is this is a good time to interrupt?”


    • Don’t shout to colleagues over the top. Walk over to the person you want to talk to, phone or send an e-mail.


    • Don’t use the speakerphone. Listening to music while on hold or recorded messages can be very annoying to others in the office. Though convenient for you, taking calls “hands-free” is disturbing everyone else.


    • Let people know when you are concentrating and wish not to be disturbed.  Have a series of signs you hang on the cubicle wall to let your colleagues know the best time to return. “Under deadline, return at 4PM” or “On an important call.”


    • Remember you are on display. Keep your personal appearance and desk neat. You are in a fish bowl.


    • Invest in high-quality headphones. These can block out extraneous noise.


    • Turn off audio sounds on the computer. Prevent a cacophony from happening.


    • Check with the people around you to see that your radio is not disturbing anyone.


    • Don’t play a radio.


    • Candies attract visitors and lolly gaggers. You aren’t Betty Crocker so don’t feel like you need to feed the masses. It’s nice to be nice, but do you really need the interruptions?


    • Face away from the opening. If you can’t face away from the doorway, get your walls heightened or train yourself not to look up at everyone who walks by. Passersby needn’t greet visible cubicle dwellers when they walk by either.


    • You might love your leftover garlic seafood stew, but smelly foods can be bothersome to people sitting nearby. If you must bring it to work, at least eat it in the kitchen and not at your desk.


Remember that even though you go there every day, and you personalize your space, the workplace is still not your home. It’s a shared environment. Make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable.


Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate


Author of Networking How to
Build Relationships That Count
, How to Get a Job and Keep

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind