I recently wrote a blog on Huffington Post Business, Open Office Space Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts. Although there are numerous positive reasons employees thrive in an open workplace environment, there are others that find an open office work space to be challenging and uncomfortable. Their complaints range from talkative coworkers to annoying bad habits which can easily lead to distraction, poor performance, and stress. (Journal of Environmental Psychology)
Working in an open office space often leads to people becoming very familiar with one another, even when it’s not a personal choice. Loud discussions, intrusion of personal space, and people taking calls on their cell phones while remaining at their desk can negatively influence a positive work day. Attempting to keep your feelings to yourself may eventually lead to an unkind remark or an inappropriate outburst, leading to a breakdown in teamwork.
I was recently quoted in an article on Time.com/Money by Meenal Vamburkar, “How to Tell Chatty Coworkers to Shut the @#$%& Up.” I received several emails from people working in an open space who shared their views with me on their own experience with “chatty coworkers,” and how they personally handled the situation. Their solutions ranged from sending an anonymous note to reporting them to HR, both examples of choosing extreme attempts before displaying some initial goodwill.
Most people really don’t know they are bothering you with their loud conversations. You may be super sensitive to noise, or their volume may be extra robust. Whatever the case, it’s important to show respect to your office mates and those you must work with on a day to day basis.
I suggest having a monthly meeting to discuss office issues in a non-punitive manner. Similar to how condominium homeowner associations hold monthly meetings to discuss noise levels, pet problems, maintenance, and other details. You can hold the same type of meeting in the office to prevent unintentional disruptions. Designate a discussion leader and someone to take notes. Keep the conversation upbeat and friendly, encouraging everyone’s input.
Showing concern for your fellow coworkers is a good step towards getting along in an open floor plan. Following through on suggestions, however, is the key to its success!