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October 31, 2010

Cubicle Etiquette

If you’ve been desperately searching for the guy you ought to “thank” for creating your comfy work environment, you’ve come to the right place.

The story of the cubicle all starts with the Herman Miller Co. In 1964, the firm launched a new line of office furniture called the Herman Miller Action Office. Designed by Bob Propst, the Action Office was really just a euphemism for “world’s first cube farm.” Ummm, I thought the office cubicle was invented by Dilbert…

Believe it or not, Propst thought the cubicle would actually break down office hierarchies and create workspaces that fostered community without robbing workers of their privacy. For those of you who currently occupy cubes, you might have a few choice words for Propst and his theory, but corporate America sure liked the idea. According to HR Magazine, approximately 70 percent of American office workers live in cubicles. Wait, no. Work! I meant work in cubicles.

Listed below are my top 5 cubicle etiquette tips:

  1. Respect Space – Do not stand outside a cube to conduct a conversation.  Converse either in your own cubicle or in that of your colleague that you are talking to.
  2. Do Not Be a Pest – Do not use sign language or whisper to attract the attention of someone who is on the phone.  Return later to carry out a conversation if you see someone talking on the phone.
  3. Respect Focus – Think twice before interrupting someone who appears to be deep in thought.  They probably are.
  4. Avoid the Speaker Phone – Do not subject others to your voicemail messages or your phone conversations.  They have their own to deal with.
  5. Keep Private Matters Private – Do not exchange confidential information in a cubicle.  The walls of cubicles rarely reach over 5 or 6 feet in height, so sound easily finds its way over the top.  Your voice will carry.

A good rule of thumb for cubicle etiquette is that if it bothers you when others do it, avoid doing it yourself. 

Have a positively productive day!

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