Friday, March 16 , 2018, 10:21 pm | Partly Cloudy 52º


John Daly: Office Cubicle Etiquette Has Space for Boundaries

You’re sitting in your cubicle at work, busy with a client proposal for the boss. A shrill, irritating cell phone ring pierces the air and interrupts your train of thought. The person in the next cubicle over answers in a loud voice. Suddenly, you hear him jump to his feet and start cursing and screaming. It’s the worst! He’s rude and inconsiderate beyond belief, and you’ve spoken to him about it before. You put on your headphones and turn on some music to block the noise and wish for one of those sound-proof cubicles you’ve heard about. You make a note to ask the boss in your next meeting.

The cubicle world is just the place to show off incredibly poor etiquette! This isn’t just a once-and-awhile event but a daily annoyance. Some of the worst behaviors include:

» The loud person whose every word on the phone or to others literally hurts your ears. You can’t hear yourself think, must less talk to someone on the phone.

» The chronically ill person who refuses to take a sick day and constantly sneezes and hacks while spreading germs with unwashed hands.

» The “over-sharer” who stops by frequently to tell stories about her personal life that you wish you could wash out of your brain. This can happen several times a day because there are no doors.

» The person in the next cubicle who pops his head up into your space just to see what you’re doing.

» The frequent eater who loves food with onions, garlic, fish and pepperoni at his desk.

» Loud personal radios — worse when the person sings along.

» The person who talks to himself out loud all day.

» The chair squeaker.

» The “love bug” who must talk to or have visits from the object of his desire next to you.

» The snoop — the person who goes through the files and drawers of others when they are not around.

What Should You Do?

The positive side of cubicles is that they promote teamwork and collaboration by not cutting people off from one another. But, the poor manners of cubicle inhabitants sometimes overcome the positive effects. If you haven’t already, suggest to management that they institute some simple rules for employees. For those who can’t be handled by management, take some initiative.

» Management should ask everyone to keep their telephone voices at a moderate range. Explain that loud conversations interrupt the work flow of others and lowers productivity of the whole.

» The company should encourage people who are sick to use leave days and don’t come to work until they are no longer infectious. When they do return, ask them to use hand sanitizers, wash their hands frequently and don’t leave dirty tissue lying around. Management should also encourage employees to work from home when they are well enough to work but still dealing with the residual illness.

» Tell the constant over-sharer that you are too busy to take a break. Turn to your work, hoping he/she will get the hint. If the person doesn’t leave, politely explain that you will only be able to visit during breaks. Ignoring the over-sharer will eventually send the right message.

» Management should require that employees take lunch in the lunchroom or out of the office. It’s better for employees to take a break, even a short one.

» The company should request employees keep all radios lowered.

» If someone frequently talks or sings to himself/herself and it disturbs you, respectfully tell him/her it bothers you and to please stop. If the person ignores you, speak to your supervisor.

» Offer to use a can of WD-40 on your neighbor’s squeaky chair!

» Ask your boss to speak to annoying love birds in the office and ask them not to disturb others with frequent visits. If they continue, tell them they are disturbing you. This goes to a matter of wasting time and productivity, and management should be able to handle it for you.

Great Video Information

(Howcast video)

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John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or get information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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