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Cubicle etiquette is a set of unwritten rules that exist in the workplace and help govern how people behave when they work in close quarters. Etiquette guidelines should be adhered to by both workers in the cubicle and people in adjoining work spaces, and many employees get very upset if these guidelines are not respected. One of the main factors in workplace etiquette is privacy.
Although employees are usually part of a larger workplace, they sometimes regard their cubicles as their own offices. For all intents and purposes, the cubicle should be viewed as a private workspace. When entering, coworkers should not just barge in and begin talking; the employee may be concentrating on something important. Visitors should stand at the entrance to the cubicle and make their presence known until the worker is able to talk.
Privacy should also take noise levels into account. While talking on the phone, employees should keep conversation volume to a normal level. Few people like to hear constant chattering or high pitched laughing. Just because the speakers is in a cubicle does not mean that sound will not travel to surrounding areas. Employees should remember this before using a speakerphone.
Confidentiality should also be taken into account as part of cubicle etiquette. Thin cubicle walls will not prevent people from hearing client discussions, which is an important consideration when workers are talking on the phone or discussing confidential client information in person. If a conversation or meeting is confidential, it may be more appropriate to conduct it in a private office.
One rule of etiquette that most irritates people if it is broken is that of odors. Eating strong smelling food in a cubicle can be very off-putting to other workers. People may also be put off by visiting a cubicle that constantly smells of a certain food. If smoking is allowed, then the same rule should be applied.
Keeping a cubicle clean and tidy is also important. A disorganized cubicle can reflect poorly on the employee’s level of professionalism. Space in a cubicle is usually limited, and covering every open space with personal items may not gain any merit points from an employer who visits.
Although cubicle etiquette covers the rule of privacy, it is a good idea for employees to get out of the cubicle now and again. Work colleagues should not feel apprehensive when approaching another person's desk. Keeping a fine balance between privacy and accessibility will improve relations with colleagues. If etiquette is respected, the workplace should become a more productive and harmonious environment.