Proper Cubicle Etiquette

While some workers try to make their cubicles a little “home away from home”, the truth of the matter is that the office is a shared space and the cubicle typically does not provide sufficient privacy for workers to be able to do whatever they want without disturbing others. Entire books have been penned on the topic of cubicle etiquette. Our aim here is to highlight the top offenders to help you make it through the workday without incident.


You might love the chicken wings that are so spicy that you have to sign a waiver before you eat them, but that doesn’t mean you should bring them back to your cubicle. Some people are extremely sensitive to spicy smells and can actually have an adverse physical reaction.
Even with less extreme examples, such as pungent Indian food or any other questionable smelling dishes, it is best to leave foods with a very strong odor at home or at least in the lunch room.


No one wants to walk by your office to see you sitting in your chair with your foot in your lap clipping your toenails. Sure, your cubicle might feel quite homey, but this is a workplace and no one wants to watch you groom.


Talking to coworkers and on the phone is a normal and necessary part of office life. However, in consideration of others in the office, you need to be mindful of the volume as well as the content of conversations that can be overheard by others. No one should have to listen to you discuss inappropriate topics. If you need to discuss something of a sensitive nature, do so in a conference or somewhere else out of earshot of others. As for the volume, always be mindful that others are trying to work around you. Use your “inside” voice so that others will not be disturbed.


Playing music softly in your cubicle space is one thing. Assaulting everyone in the office with your musical selections is another. If you feel like you cannot make it through the workday without hearing your favorite tunes, consider bringing your iPod. If you do have music playing, be sure to keep the volume down low enough that others will not have to hear it.


This is one of the tips about cubicle etiquette that often draws a bit of criticism. Some feel they should be able to wear as much perfume as they want, light candles all day long and spray enough air freshener to choke a horse. The problem with that philosophy is that some of your co-workers may have a legitimate allergy to certain scents. This doesn’t mean that you have to totally refrain from wearing scents or using air fresheners, but you should, perhaps, be careful with how much you use.

Also, if someone tells you that they are allergic or that your products are bothering them, you should then refrain from using them in the office. Cubicle etiquette really comes down to simple consideration and treating others the way that you want to be treated. Be mindful of your co-workers and the office environment will be much more pleasant for everyone.

*Photo provided courtesy of Cristian V. (Flickr)

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