Welcome to the Open Office… Breaking down the walls… Opening the doors. For many us in tech and IT, a truly open office is not a new concept. It brings with it the promise of collaboration, equality, productivity and identity as the cool office. But it is not all hunky-dory.
With open office-plans comes distractions and lack of privacy. Studies have shown that open offices often do not contribute to productivity and that many employees dislike them. Colleagues may speak too loudly on the phone. Some may come in sick and spread their germs around the office.
Hence, an open office etiquette should help set up a respectful environment that allows everyone to remain productive. Here are 9 tips and guidelines to make the most of your day in an open office setup.
1. Respect other’s work time
Everyone in the office has work to get done and respect that. Just because others are sitting nearby doesn’t mean they are available for conversation at all times. Respect one another’s privacy. Always ask if they have a moment to talk.
2. Mind your Noise levels
Noise travels far in an open office. Even if talking or noise doesn’t distract you, it may distract those around you. It’s essential that you’re mindful of your own noise level. Speak at an indoor level and set your phone’s ringtone/notification sounds on silent or at a minimal level. If you need to talk on the phone, find a space away for the workstations.
3. Find a meeting room/area
If you have a meeting or a conference call planned, remember that it could be distracting to others. Instead of having it in the open space, have the meeting in a designated area, like a conference room or a break room. This room will allow your brainstorming sessions to go on as long as they need to without disrupting others.
4. Be aware of smells and hygiene
Since everyone in an open office shares the same space, any strong scent can be a distraction or annoyance. This means that one of the ground rules for offices is to avoid strong-smelling foods, perfumes, or lotions. Pay attention to your personal grooming and body odor as well. Practice good hygiene and keep a hand sanitizer at your desk.
5. Keep your desk tidy
Your messy desk can be a distraction to others and will be a disadvantage to your professional image. Be sure to dust and wipe down your desk each week, don’t leave old food or cold cups of coffee out overnight, and try your best to keep your station organized.
6. Address conflicts politely
When many people are working together in an open space, there is bound to be conflicts and issues. If someone else does something you find disrespectful or distracting, talk to them calmly and politely. Everyone is not going to agree with you one hundred percent of the time. Be tolerant of these differences and find ways to adapt.
7. Work from home if you are sick
When you work closely, it is easy to transfer germs. Avoid the possibility of spreading germs to others and work from home. In this current climate of a global outbreak of Coronavirus, it is of utmost importance to do a self-check and help reduce the chance of communicable diseases. Even at home, you can have a productive workday.
Here are a few tips to help you out.
8. Be considerate
Being considerate is the key when working in an open-office. Act respectful and expect others to act in the same way. Recognize your office boundaries, and continuously check in with yourself to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Open offices depend on strong communication and a willingness from everyone to make them work.
9. Respect others privacy and space
One of the reasons for staying organized comes down to another separate ground rule, respecting other’s space. In addition to respecting the space of others in the office, respect their privacy.
Although a lot of these suggestions may be considered common sense, common sense is not so common anymore. Always put yourself in others’ shoes and consider how you would want to be treated.