Although considered ‘social’ to work in such close proximity to work colleagues certain rules of etiquette, consideration and respect are required to make an ‘open plan’ office arrangement function efficiently.

Kim Meszaros from Kelly gives some guidelines as to the issues to consider if you want your open plan office or workspace to be as productive and as harmonious as possible.

•         Showing consideration to colleagues in an open plan office will only work if you all adopt a mutual respect for each other.

•         Allow yourself to be accessible to others but adopt clearly understood signals for when you’re busy and don’t wish to be disturbed. If need be use headphones to block excessive noise.

•         Ensure that everyone is in agreement when it comes to having music or radio background noise, although this can help mask background noise – it can be distracting and frustrating for others

•         Keep your desk tidy. This is especially important if you are sharing an open plan desk and show courtesy when using any shared spaces.

•         Be careful when having conversations. Don’t speak too loudly on the phone or to colleagues in shared workspaces as you may be interrupting another fellow worker from getting on with their work.

•         Never shout to a colleague who’s at a workstation several feet away to attract their attention.

•         Whenever possible try to eat away from your desk to avoid pungent food smells from bothering your colleagues.

•         Even within open plan workspaces, there will be designated aisles or walking routes to use. Use them and don’t be tempted to take short cuts across other people’s ‘spaces’.

“In general, it’s quite easy to get along well in an open plan working environment. What you should always be thinking about is being accessible to people wherever possible but still maintaining boundaries whenever you need to focus on work, showing consideration to others and by being tidy and courteous,” concludes Meszaros.

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