August 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts August 2003 Current Issue
August 2003
Short Cuts:
Cube Courtesy

How to work respectfully in shared office space


Originally conceived as a way to foster communication and openness in the workplace, the cubicle system also begs for abuse from clueless co-workers. Following are tips from business consultants Ann Marie Sabath, founder of Cincinnati-based At Ease Inc., and Jill Bremer, principal at Bremer Communications, in Oak Park, Ill. on behaving professionally in the cube ’hood.

• Mind your own business. Do not offer unsolicited commentary on someone else’s conversation just because they’re within earshot.

• Don’t barge in. If you need to speak with someone who is working in a cube, knock lightly on the wall first and ask if they have a minute.

• Give yourself privacy. Sit with your back facing the entrance, and post a “work in progress” sign when you don’t wish to be interrupted.

• Be discreet. From spousal tiffs to doctor’s calls, not much escapes the ears of cube neighbors. To avoid having your private life become public fodder, take a walk and make personal calls from your cell phone.

• Consider aromas. Last night’s leftover curry dinner can distract colleagues five aisles away. The same goes for strong perfumes and colognes.

• Watch the noise level. Do not shout out to co-workers in a “Stella”-like manner or talk on speakerphone.

• Air it out. Gently express grievances, and set up mutual rules of behavior so everyone is reminded they are sharing a tight workspace.


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