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More and more large corporations are utilizing an open floor plan and installing cubicle walls to make individual workstations. My day job is at such a corporation.
Having worked in this type of environment for the last twelve years, I've made a number of observations and have made a list of things that should be part of any corporation’s "Cubicle Etiquette" memorandum.
- Although the walls do absorb sound, they do not make your space sound proof. Your voice carries further than you think, and yes, we just heard what you said to your boyfriend.
- Even though your neighbor two cubes down can hear you if you holler her name, try calling her on the telephone. Employers love it when you utilize the equipment in your cubicle.
- If someone has mistakenly given you speakerphone capabilities, don’t think you need to use them. Avoid the temptation.
- Even though you occupy the space between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, you do not actually own it. If you insist on calling it your own, I’m sure someone can have accounting apportion your share of the taxes, insurance, and utilities and deduct it from your next check.
- Everyone enjoys the latest pictures of your family tastefully displayed in frames. We’re really not interested in a collage of dog-eared photos of your dog Sissy and your brother Bubba at the biggest beer gut competition.
- A cubicle wall is NOT the same as your refrigerator door at home. Everyone is proud of their child’s artwork, but bear in mind that we ALL don’t see his same star potential. If you simply MUST display Timmy’s artwork, then do it for the day, but take it home tonight.
- If you’re old enough to be employed at an office with cubicles, then you’re old enough to leave posters of the Jonas Brothers, Hulk Hogan, Nickelback, Spongebob and others at home.
- Do not peer over the tops of cubicle walls. This is called Prairie-dogging. Approach a cubicle from its open side and treat it as though there were a door there. Stop at the doorway before entering to give the occupant a chance to acknowledge you are there.
- If someone is on the phone, everyone nearby should refrain from making as much noise as possible.
- Even though you have your headphones on, with excessive volume we can still hear the noise you affectionately refer to as music. Don’t even think about singing along. Even worse is the stifled humming or toe-tapping.
- Again, if you’re old enough to be employed at an office with cubicles, then you’re old enough to keep your Beanie Baby collection, McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys, Matchbox cars collection, Barbie collection, etc. at home.
- When you get something new that you want to display, take down something old. Don’t simply try to layer it. Layering doesn’t really work in cubicles.
- Remember that less is more. Believe it or not it is perfectly acceptable to have an inch of space on your wall that is NOT covered by something.
- If you’re going to have live plants, take care of them and water them regularly and keep them bug-free. If you’re going to have artificial flowers or plants, keep them clean. Another tip, if you’re going to go with the seasonal flowers, keep up with the seasons. Poinsettias in the spring are not a good look to have.
- This is the best piece of advice I can give and I give it to anyone who works for me. Treat your space, no matter where it is, as if it was the desk of the CEO of the company. If you were the CEO, would you have all of this stuff displayed in your fancy corner office with a window as you visited with other top executives from around the world? If you have trouble imagining that scenario, try to imagine this one. What if the CEO came to visit your desk tomorrow with two guests and stopped at your desk and asked you about each item at your desk? Would you beam with pride as you spoke of each thing? If after contemplating those scenarios you can still feel good about what you have around you, then by all means keep it.