10 Ways to Make Your Coworkers Happy in a Shared Workspace

July 6, 2017 Rachel Illingworth

“Is someone clipping their fingernails right now? Gross!”

The practice of working in a shared area has grown drastically over the last few years. Communal work areas contribute to an environment of engaged and productive employees, which leads to a healthier Worker Experience (WX). Yet on the flip side, these workspaces can introduce a bevy of interpersonal issues that will annoy even the most easygoing workers.

If you work in an open-concept situation, chances are, you’ve done something that is at least vaguely annoying to a coworker. Take note, here’s a list of the best practices for people working in a shared workspace:

1. Don’t be that guy

Even though it’s a great rule to live by, this first rule might be a bit harsh. It just means to be kind to one another. Open your mind, and be a little more thoughtful of your coworkers. Try to be tolerant of where your coworkers might be coming from regarding a variety of topics. Most importantly, angry words, hate speech, and cursing is, in fact, unacceptable office behavior.

2. Become traceless

That doesn’t mean to dress in all black and act like a ninja. Most open office workspaces have work areas that are not necessarily assigned to specific workers. This means it should be part of the culture that you take your equipment and belongings home with you at the end of the day.

3. Stay home if you’re sick

This bit of etiquette is pretty self-explanatory. It’s just a thoughtful thing, to not get anyone else sick. Inevitably, you’re going to touch some door knob, button, or office equipment. Or worse, you’ll forget for a brief moment that you’re sick and shake someone’s hand. Just don’t put yourself and others in the position of catching a cold.

4. Be conscientious of others’ needs

Think first, “Will what I’m about to do be disturbing to others around me?” No, that doesn’t mean you need to ask anyone around you if they need anything every time you get up to use the bathroom. But that does mean that you should be aware of a fragrance allergy before you switch on the wax melter.


5. Take it down a notch

High volume voices are usually not a welcome aspect of a communal work space. Be understanding that others are working and might not appreciate louder voices. There’s no helping if you have to be on a long phone call or video conference. If you can’t find a separate room to take it into, try to be cognizant of others who are actively researching and inputting information, and lower your speaking voice a bit.

6. Don’t take over

Chances are, you’ve been assigned a specific space or desk area to do your work in. If not, there are specific designated areas that are for work in your office space. You should probably try not to spread out too much. Coworkers might actively be looking for a place to put their stuff down (especially if your workspace is full or having a busy day), so try to only take as much space as you actually need.

7. Clean up after yourself

With open concept work areas, many people eat their lunches at their desks, or feel relaxed enough to casually leave dishes in the kitchen sink. Although you might feel comfortable, don’t leave dirty dishes to get crusty in your work area or communal kitchen sink (for some coworker to wash) — take a few minutes to clear away and wash your own dishes.

8. Toiletries stay home

Let’s be honest, no one wants hair product and cologne permeating the air while they’re trying to put together last month’s finance report, or watch you apply eyeliner and lipstick every morning. If you oversleep often or work out during the day, keep the toiletries in the bathroom, please.

9. Don’t be a gossip

Gossip does nothing but introduce negativity and distrust into the workplace, so don’t do it. If you need to vent, do so during off-hours. If you can’t breathe from frustration, and therefore, you can’t help but angry-gossip, get up and take a walk. Just don’t do it.

10. Try not to be gross

Picking your nose, smacking your lips, biting your nails, or chewing food with your mouth open might be cutesy if you’re eight — but not when you’re 38. Your coworkers probably don’t appreciate it.

Your shared workspace can be a cool, modern, productive WX utopia — don’t muck it up by being mean and thoughtless. Help your company increase and improve their Customer and Worker Experiences, be thoughtful of your coworkers, and help them accomplish their best work. Additionally, if you’d like to boost your company’s WX (increase engagement, agility, and productivity), feel free to contact us to get signed up for a Virtuous Cycle Diagnostic.

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