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Open Plan Office Etiquette

Open Plan Office Etiquette

Open plan office environments tend to be the norm for many businesses. They are cheaper to run, better for communication and are far more flexible to accommodate any changes to the space plan. However, inevitably, an open plan office space comes with drawbacks too such as interruptions, noise and having to work in closer proximity to co-workers that in other circumstances you may not choose to sit next to!

Here are some open plan office etiquette tips to help you work harmoniously with your co-workers so everyone can work productively and efficiently:

Mobile Phones
Mobile phones can be a big distraction in the office and it’s often hard to know how loud you are actually talking on a mobile phone! Avoid speaking loudly and you get a bad service, go outside the office so your voice doesn't carry across the office. You should also set your mobile phone ring tone to silent, or on low volume so that workers are not disturbed by various different ring tones going off around them.

Be Tidy
If you are not a particularly tidy or organised person, you may find the contents of your desk spreading onto your neighbours. Sound familiar? To ensure your desk always stays tidy, make sure you file papers on a regular basis so your desk is not too cluttered and return your dirty mugs to the kitchen at the end of each day. Companies should consider implementing a clear desk policy so that the office always looks tidy for visitors.

Smelly Food
Most employees find themselves taking a “working lunch” these days and consuming food at their desks. Try to avoid bringing in smelly foods such as curries or spicy foods as these can put others off their lunch and/or work.

Some companies, particularly creative companies like to work with some background music – providing everyone doesn't find it too much of a distraction. Whilst it’s not always possible to take into account everyone’s taste in music, you can involve everyone by setting up a work playlist via platforms such as iTunes or Grooveshark.

Voice Volume
We are often unaware of our own voice volume and how far it can carry across an office. If you are holding informal meetings at your desk with colleagues, consider holding the meeting in a meeting room so as not to disturb others around you. Never use a speakerphone in an open plan office and always wear a headset when listening to music or online videos from your computer.

A little bit of office etiquette goes a long way when working in an open plan office. The disadvantages of working in an open plan can far outweigh themselves with a little bit of consideration and self awareness. If you are looking at how you can optimize your open plan office for maximum productivity and efficiency, download the Tenant’s Guide to Office Design to help you think carefully about your design and office layout.


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