Thursday, April 06, 2006

With change comes more change

The boss, whom I respect, admire, and like to work for, sent out a friendly reminder to cubical etiquette the other day. Soon we will be near the development team. I hear they are quiet and studious bunch afraid to talk with others in the hall way. So the cube farm etiquette was a kind reminder about how to treat others.

Easy – I am a very politer person, always, or at least most often, concerned with the state of others well being. Unfortunately, I discovered that according to this article, I am obnoxious! Everything in the article they say not to do, I do with vigor.

Excerpts for the Article by Mary Lebeau

“The cubicle walls should establish a “private area” for the employee,” notes Amy Weibel, a cubicle dweller at Marina Maher Communications in New York City. “If you’re approaching someone else’s cubicle, respect that area. Knock gently on the side when trying to get someone’s attention. This gives someone an opportunity to put up a hand or signal that they don’t wish to be bothered. This is a critical courtesy for employees who work on deadline yet don’t have a door to close to signal that they can’t be disturbed.”

I barge right in, especially if I know the person. After all, it’s me. What could be more important than that?

NOISE: Most complaints about cubicle neighbors center on “noise control”. When co-workers sit closely together, it’s hard to avoid all noise concerns, but it’s important to be aware of the people on either side of you. Develop a “telephone voice” so that your conversations aren’t being overheard. Do your best not to listen in to your neighbors’ phone conversations – and if you do hear them, never repeat what you heard. “I had a co-worker who not only listened to my conversation she’d yell over things for me to say,” Lisa Crowley, an interviewer for a state agency, says. “It wasn’t just unprofessional. It was rude—and it made for an unhappy work relationship.” Personal cell phones should be kept off until break time, and never use a speaker phone—it’s distracting to the entire office.

I don’t have an indoor voice – just the out door voice that cuts through the spine with the high range tones of nails on a chalkboard. Often I just start talking, walls or no walls, another person there or not. I like to hear myself mostly. No inner dialogue.

The problems don’t stop once the phone is hung up. Be conscious when using radios in your cubicle and, if it’s permissible, wear headphones as an act of courtesy to your neighbors.

No one has ever said a thing about my boom box at work. Except the one guy I punched.

SMELLS: After the noise is controlled, it’s time to follow your nose (and be cognizant of your neighbors’ noses). “A major faux pas is applying or wearing too much perfume while in a cubicle environment,” says cubicle dweller Gina Friars. “Cheap cologne or aftershave tends to give those nearby headaches, and even worse, some people have perfume allergies and really suffer from the variety of scents in the air.” Keep your fragrance choices simple, and if a co-worker does suffer from allergies, stick to an after-shower powder.

Just because you’re in your cubicle doesn’t mean you have the freedom to take off your shoes. This looks unprofessional and, even worse, the odor will travel beyond your space. Also remember that the hoagie with garlic and extra onions may smell delicious to you, but it could be turning the stomach of your co-worker. If you must eat pungent food, take it to the lunchroom.

Well – if you have ever met me, you’ll know I hardly wear shoes, or socks, and wear High-Karate, like Brian Fantana, with real panther juice.

SIGHTS: Cubicle d├ęcor should comply with company standards. Remember that not everyone shares your sense of humor, so leave the “joke” posters at home, so you don’t inadvertently offend co-workers or clients.

Note to self – remove porn.

“Always remember that there is no lock on the door—in fact, by definition, there’s no door!” reporter Kate Rauhauser-Smith points out. That means the cubicle is not the place to store valuables. But that open-door policy doesn’t mean that everything is up for grabs. “My pet peeve is the way people take things from my cubicle without asking,” Friars says. “I have to hide my tape dispenser and stapler in a drawer.” Your neighbor’s cubicle should never be treated like a supply closet.

Whops! My bad.

One last word about sight cube-tiquette—resist glancing into other people’s cubicles as you walk by, and don’t wander in without invitation. The cubicle is someone’s work area, and should be treated as such.

Now what am I going to do at work all day?

So there is no mention of thermostat wars, being too cold or too hot because of some jerk, sentence on the guy who is drop kicking things and swearing up a storm when he gets mad, no thought of the guy coming in three hours late and leaving right after the last one out every day. Yeah, that guy is still here.

Just last month I was reading a book on Innovation which discusses that groups of like minded people should be teamed together to create cube communities. Loud people over here to be on the phones, mice – you go there and inherit the earth one day when the rest of us are done with it, and the creative and talented people, go sit by Psquared.

1 comment:

  1. Being courteous can bite you in the ass. I kept out of others’ business (lots of b.s. going on), used headphones and spoke quietly on the phone, especially if it was a private call, when I first started my current job. So naturally, I was labeled “antisocial.”

    After a couple of years, I began to steal from cubes and burned a few to the ground (without setting off the sprinklers, amazingly). Of course I was named Employee of the Month for seven months straight. The only reason I lost the title was because someone held a fireworks demonstration in his cube and had Tom Jones perform his wonderful hits during the grand finale.