How to be a Good Neighbor in an Open Office

Interior Of Busy Architect's Office With Staff Working

So you have a new job – congratulations! It’s bound to be filled with all kinds of new challenges and tests – not the least of which is learning to get along with your new colleagues.

This is not something to be taken lightly. How you get along with people will affect your social life and work performance at your new job. Remember that you’re the new kid on the block. These people all precede you and have established habits and duties – the least you can do is try to fit in.

So what happens when you walk into your new office building and find out that it’s an open office?

No cubicles, no divisions, no privacy.

Workplaces have changed over the last 10 or 15 years. Instead of shutting their doors, bosses are opening the doors to meeting rooms and making everything transparent. The emphasis is on teamwork and brainstorming, and office structures are being redesigned to reflect this. Call it the open office revolution, or the death of the cubicle.

Open offices make it easier for people to communicate and save money on office partitions. But you need to remember that there are some rules to follow. You still need to respect other people’s privacy, need for personal space, and individual working habits.

Tips for Surviving an Open Office Environment

Keep Your Music to Yourself

You like to listen to music while you work. As long as it is allowed, go for it. But remember that musical tastes are highly individual. Bring headphones so that your officemates aren’t subjected to your tunes.

Enjoy Lunch but Keep it on the Down Low

You’re so dedicated you don’t even leave your desk for meals. That’s your choice, but while last night’s Indian takeout is a great lunch, your officemates may not agree. Save the leftover salmon for home, and bring foods that don’t have a strong odor to work, especially if you will be using the communal microwave.

Keep Your Private Conversations to Yourself

While open offices are great for conversation and discussion, remember that others around you might be trying to concentrate or get some work done. Respect it, and try to keep your voice low. In addition, your co-workers don’t need to hear your personal conversations.

Go Out, Smell the Roses

Give your officemates a breather – don’t be at your desk constantly, especially if you are seated right next to someone. They’ll appreciate the privacy you give them, and will be more likely to return the favor.

Get up and go for a short walk at lunch or refill your water bottle at the cooler.

Mind Your Cell Phone Manners

Keep your personal phone ringer down, or better yet, on vibrate, and when you need to take a personal call, leave your desk or the shared office space. Other people don’t need to know who is picking up your groceries tonight or what little Johnny has done at school. If you don’t want anyone gossiping about you, don’t give them ammunition.

Remember, sharing an office space means you need to respect the space of everyone around you. Once you do this, you’re on your way to getting along with others in an open-concept office.