Now that many of us are returning to the office, people are going to be sitting in cubicles again. If you’re one of those people, you know that there can be a lot of distractions. Without office walls to separate you from your coworkers, you probably have to deal with a lot of background noise and frequent interruptions. It may sometimes be hard for you to focus and get your work done. And there may be times when you irritate your fellow cubicle-dwellers without even meaning to.

When a bunch of people are working in close quarters, it’s important for everyone to follow certain etiquette rules. Author Joyce Russell recommends the following:

  • Don’t pop your head over a cubicle wall in order to ask your neighbor something – even if the wall is low. It’s intrusive and generally not appreciated.
  • Don’t call out to someone who is across the room.
  • If you have something that you need to say to your coworker, walk to the entrance of his or her cubicle and knock on the wall (as if it were a door). Then ask your coworker if he or she has a minute to talk. If your coworker is busy, come back later.
  • When your coworker is on the phone or appears to be deep in thought, don’t attempt to silently communicate with him or her using exaggerated facial expressions or hand gestures. Just come back later.
  • Don’t borrow items from your coworkers’ desks without asking. They’ll notice that their stapler is missing, trust me.
  • Don’t use your speakerphone.
  • Lower the volume of your cell phone ring tone or set it to “silent.”
  • Don’t play loud music.
  • And try not to produce strong smells (through the use of perfumes, air fresheners, or stinky foods). If you want to eat tuna fish, it might be best to do it in the lunchroom rather than at your desk.

Russell, J. E. A. (2011, August 14). Career coach: 15 rules of etiquette for the cubicle. The Washington Post. Retrieved from: