Etiquette at Work
Sharing office space can be great if you’re blessed with kind, considerate co-workers who bolster your creativity and make you laugh. But it can also be a disaster—piles of papers, co-workers who won’t shut up, and a community kitchen that always smells a bit like old Subway sandwiches. According to Barbara Pachter, author of the book New Rules @ Work (Prentice Hall Press; $13.95), sharing space is a huge source of conflict among co-workers. Somehow, we’re not surprised. Here’s our list of DO’s and DON’Ts to inspire peaceful interoffice relations.
Office Space DON’T: Huge, framed photos of you and your boyfriend smooching or you with your girlfriends on the beach in Mexico last April.
Office Space DO: Tasteful photos, simple decorations, and plenty of room to store two sets of coats, bags, and personal gear.
Office Space DON’T: Loudly discussing the details of a deal you’re working on while your office mate sits (with her fingers in her ears) crunching numbers.
Office Space DO: Keep your cell phone on low (or silent) and set your personal volume to low, too. Save private phone calls for your lunch break.
Office Space DON’T: A fragrance overload of Tahitian Vanilla body lotion followed up by a spritz or two of Angel perfume.
Office Space DO: Use light or nonscented lotions and save the personal grooming (nail filing, eyebrow maintenance, flossing… gross!) for the bathroom at home.
Office Space DON’T: Spending the first 20 (okay, sometimes 30) minutes of every day chatting with your office companion about your date last night or Britney’s latest escapades.
Office Space DO: Keep your chatter and gossip to an absolute minimum. You don’t want your boss to think the sole reason you come to work every day is to socialize.
Office Space DON’T: Piles of paper, garbage that needs to be taken out, and stacks and stacks of recycling.
Office Space DO: Try to keep your office neat. For some people, a messy desk and stacks of paper are a sign of creativity. For others, this is their worst nightmare. Keeping things clean shows respect for yourself and the people you work with.
Office Space DON’T: Contributing to nasty shared kitchen behavior by pilfering other people’s Diet Pepsis, leaving dirty dishes in the sink, or storing lunch leftovers well past their prime.
Office Space DO: Make more coffee if you take the last cup, do your dishes, and throw away your trash. If the kitchen stays a disgusting mess, speak to the Boss about instituting some widespread kitchen change like weekly fridge clean-outs, mandatory lunch labeling, and a cleaning service. Viva la Revolution!
Office Space DON’T: Negative, hostile behavior that tells your co-workers you’re sooo unhappy with them. They just don’t know why.
Office Space DO: If you’ve got to share space, you’ve got to get along. Vow to address any interoffice strife and keep your working environment a happy place. After all, you’re going to be there for 40 hours a week or more. You might as well try to enjoy it.