Tips for open-plan office workers

By Drum Digital
16 November 2015

An open-plan office arrangement saves companies money and employees have little say on the invasion of privacy and personal working space.

By Vida Li-Sik

Follow these “unwritten” rules to make sure everyone can work productively and in harmony:

Smells: A top complaint. Practise good hygiene by bathing regularly, brushing your teeth and don’t overdo it with the perfume. Be careful what you bring for lunch, if you eat at your desk. Not everyone enjoys the smell of curry, popcorn or garlic. And, never break wind at your desk! Never.

Desk and floor hygiene: Keep a tidy desk. Get rid of unnecessary paper, dirty plates and cups.

Music: Not everyone enjoys the same tunes so invest in some headphones – and keep the peace.

Yelling: If you need to speak to a colleague, get up and walk over to their desk, don’t yell across the room.

Telephones: Ringing telephones can be distracting if they ring simultaneously. Turn down the volume of your telephone, try to answer within three rings or if you’re in a meeting or on lunch, put your phone on voicemail.

Manage resources: If you use all the paper in the printer/photocopier, replace it.

Conversations: Be considerate. Don’t hold personal conversations at yours or someone else’s desk. If you need to have a work-related meeting, book a boardroom or find a quiet space.

Interrupting: This is very easy to do in an open-plan office. Never interrupt others’ phone conversations and never butt into conversations that have nothing to do with you.

Personal calls: In an open-plan office, personal calls are not personal. Don’t walk around the office speaking loudly on your cellphone, or have arguments with your family and friends over the phone at your desk.

Confidentiality: When working on a confidential project, don’t leave important documents laying around, close all e-mails and put all correspondence in a draw. On the other hand, if you need something from a colleague ask before you take.

Don’t gossip: Although everyone gossips a little be careful about spreading rumours and hearsay. People will soon see you as untrustworthy.

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