Even though spending more than 40 hours a week at work used once meant working overtime, today 41 hours or more is the norm for most of us today. In fact according to a study done by Globoforce it was discovered that 78 percent of people who work 40 to 50 hours a week spend more time with co-workers than with their families. Considering the fact that we spend the majority of their waking hours at work, the work relationships we create are important to us. They can turn into treasured lifelong friendships and valuable networks over time. But sometime unconsciously the errors of our ways can turn a new friendship sour unknowingly, like Nora.
While at work, Nora frequently makes personal calls to her friends. Since it does not affect the expected productivity by her boss, it has never been an issue. However, her conversations are loud and generously sprinkled with foul and obscene language. Her co-workers in nearby cubicles cannot help but overhear her conversations and which not only disrupts their work but also has started to make them uncomfortable. She has now become a topic of discussion and those around her are avoiding her. Nora has noticed the change in their attitude over time but is unable to understand what has contributed to this.
Today, you will gain some advice on co-existing in the office space with those who you spend half your day with and who you do not want to unknowingly upset – your co-workers. So here are some complaints co-workers commonly have about their colleagues and ways we can avoid them.
Voices can be easily carried across the floor in an office, and if you tend to speak relatively louder than others it is crucial to pay attention to your volume in the office.
Having your colleague a couple of desks away is convenient. But standing at your desk and yelling for your co-worker is impolite and disrupts work for others around you, leaving them rolling their eyes. Take the effort of the short walk to talk to the individual in person. It also serves as a good stretch.
While you are multi-tasking it can seem very tempting to answer your calls on speaker, but this not only disrupts the privacy of the conversation held but also the noise that travels through the walls could interrupt and annoy your neighbours. If you would like to take a call hands free, using headphones works as a better alternative. You may be confronted with challenging situations, in these times resorting to shouting over a phone call or use of bad language is easy to resort to but is detrimental to your professional identity and will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. Others around you may not understand the context but they will remember what they see. And what they see, they will believe.
The ringtone for your mobile phone, must be chosen wisely as it contributes to your professional image. It is best to go with something simplistic that does not blare every time your phone rings. Adjusting the volume of your landline, avoids disrupting your co-workers train of thoughts. Turning the computer sounds off as well can prevent irritated colleagues.
Talking about irritated colleagues, while pen-drumming or tapping your feet and humming to your song may seem trivial and entertaining to you, it could give others around you a headache and frustrate them.
There is nothing more disturbing than having to bare your colleagues bad body odour. So surely you don’t want to be the culprit. Carrying or having a small and light scented perfume tucked away in your drawer is advisable. However, cautiously pick out your cologne cautiously, as you don’t want to leave everyone suffocating with strong fragrances. Use milder fragrances and limit the application.
Carrying the trail of the smell of tobacco, after a smoke is nauseating to some and unprofessional. It is advisable to smoke outside the office premises or during the lunch hour. Smoker’s breath can be very off-putting to non-smokers and can distract a person’s attention when in conversation with them. Using a breath mint after a smoke can limit the reek of smoke smell. Besides using a cologne/perfume, using a light room freshener can eliminate the unpleasant smell being carried back to your seat too. But using room fresheners must be done cautiously, as going overboard with room fresheners can aggravate your colleague’s senses.
While trying to get comfortable at your desk, getting too comfortable by removing your shoes is not appreciated. Keep your shoes on. No one likes having to smell feet while working through the day.
While you may be rushing to an important seminar or meeting that you need to attend, remember your cubicle is not your dressing room. Applying cosmetics, flossing, adding accessories or brushing your hair must be saved for the washroom.
While we send a majority of our day at office, it becomes hard not to build strong friendships and support systems at office, however discussing personal matters in office is not the best idea as it is not very difficult to be overheard. Conversations on sensitive issues must be left for during a break, away from the office environment.
Likewise, eavesdropping is a nasty habit, and frowned upon by staff. Though many of us work in spaces where the cubicle height is very low, sound can easily travel and you can happen to hear it even when you do not consciously intend to. Never engage in a conversation when you are not invited to. Keep conversations overheard (not on purpose) to yourself. That brings us to the vice of gossiping. Don’t gossip or talk about others. Also sharing private information what colleagues have shared with you in confidence is highly immoral and not conversational material for the coffee machine.
It is impolite to simply barge into someone’s cubicle or a conference room without knocking. Knocking before entering a cubicle, and asking your colleague if it is a good time is common courtesy. Announce yourself in the doorway or lightly knock on the wall. Even if they don’t have one, imagine that all cubicle have doors. Knocking gives the individual the time to express if the timing is inconvenient for them.
Along with entering without notice, entering a cubicle or standing at the desk without the occupant being present is a big NO. It comes across as rude and offensive. If mid-conversation someone excuses themselves to step outside to attend to a call, reading someone’s computer screen in their absence is intrusive.
‘Taking’ or ‘borrowing’ office supplies without permission is dishonourable and ill-mannered. Staff with desks in an open area often deal with the problem of others taking their staplers, tape dispensers, scissors or even rummaging through their desks for some paper and pens.
Smells also come from our lunch boxes. Lunches with garlics, onions and spices are best opened in the cafeteria. Besides having your lunch at the cafeteria, is a great place to interact with colleagues and meet with others from various departments as well. However, conquering a modern workday, could occasionally leave you with only one option of having a quick lunch at your desk. But nobody likes to receive papers with oil or food stains on them, and so foods eaten at your workstation too must be restricted to finger foods or fruit. While eating at your desk may be convenient, it must be avoided as sounds of chewing, munching crunchy foods, lip-smacking or slurping can upset your co-workers.
With major parts of your day spent at your desk, decorating your cubicle can make workday interesting. Motivational quotes, a photo of your family and friends can keep you mindful. It is best to stay clear from adding elements of religion, political slogans, distasteful photos, sharing of social beliefs, that are issues of sensitivity and can even offend people.
If cleanliness is a top priority in homes, it shouldn’t be difficulty to keep our office space too! Cleanliness speaks volumes about your personality and sense of hygiene. Visiting a cubicle or a desk that is tidy and minimal with papers well filed and labelled is better site than one that is stacked with unfiled paper stacked up, food wrappers simply lying around inviting crawlers. Make sure you use the garbage cans placed near you correctly, maintaining the segregation of dry and wet waste.
When you fall sick it is better to take the day off and stay home resting and allow your body to get better. This better than trying to become a martyr, only to allow your health to deteriorate to a point where you need to take the entire week off. Coming into work sick is will increase your colleagues exposure to the illness, while also disrupting your own productivity.
However when you have important deadlines to meet and your team relying on you, choosing to stay home may be impractical, but taking all precautions is important. If you have a cold sneezing into your hands is not appreciated, as a substitute using a disposable tissue is suggested. Frequently replace used tissues instead of leaving them lying around.
These cues do not only apply to the people you interact with at work, but everyone who occupies your office space. Vendors, cleaners and deliverymen, deserve the same respect. Office etiquette should be adopted in all scenarios, inside and outside the office space, after all practice makes perfect. While it is absolutely impossible to absolutely please everyone all the time, considering the above mentioned cues will help understand the basic common courtesies of thriving in the cube farm.