Because those in cubes are so visible, there is a subconscious assumption that the person is always available. Following are some guidelines for our workday life in the cubicle world:
Give Cube Mates a sense of control over their own space: Knock on cube walls before speaking, even if they are only the symbolic foam partitions. Ask permission to enter. Avoid hovering if they’re on the phone. “Don, we’re in close quarters, but would you mind giving me privacy when I’m on the phone? Thanks.”
Respect time and space, a.k.a. NO loitering: Avoid conversation free-floating among people who are trying to make phone calls, read or write important documents and concentrate on their work. Distractions can cause tremendous frustration to those who need quiet while working. “Mary, I’m working on something right now that demands my full concentration. Thanks.”
Odors know no boundaries. What smells good to you can turn someone else’s stomach. If you eat at your desk, take the empty containers to the trash immediately. Other annoyances that can bring on grievances are: shoes (keep them ON, please); strong perfume (sneeze, wheeze…my sinuses just went shut); or other things that are pleasing to us but not so tolerable for the cube mates.
Be more aware of what you say and how loud you are. Personal tiffs, weird bodily functions, clipping or tapping nails, gum popping, the radio, and particularly loud phone conversations, carry over cubicle walls with a much greater noise level than we think. Assume everyone within a four-cube radius can hear you so always avoid shouting over walls for any reason. Take sensitive matters to a closed-door room. Also, vibrating cell phones on your desk can jump around and be very disturbing (that includes in meetings and at meals as well). Can you alternate lunch hours with those around you to have some quiet time?
Avoid “Prairie Dogging”. Heads popping up over cube walls is greatly frowned upon by those who need the privacy and respect of working in their own space uninterrupted. “Bob, I know it’s easiest for you to talk over the wall, but would you do me a favor and come around? Thanks”
Home Sweet Home (uh, Cube): Tastefully “framed” photos, nice plants, a small Persian rug, and meaningful knickknacks can show class. Everything gives an impression to others. What are yours?