So, I started a new job about 6 weeks ago, and I’m sharing an office for the first time in my career. Because it’s a new employer, new processes, new everything, I was actually happy to know that I would have my peer to lean on as I transition into my new role, but there was some apprehension. Privacy is out of the window and everything I say or do can be judged or scrutinized. However, I remembered that we come to work to do a job, and we just need to be mindful and considerate of each other. It’s about an awareness of the space you share. Now, I’m not saying to go out of your way; I’m saying be courteous. I mean, we spend more time at the office than we do with our own families, so it’s important to respect each other as colleagues as well as individuals.
So, let’s talk. Are you sharing an office space or have a cubicle setting at your workplace? Need tips on how to thrive in this environment? My 10 tips might just help your workday go a lot smoother.
1. Always say hello. Be courteous to each other. Remember when your mother would say, “I didn’t sleep with you last night. You speak and say good morning.” ?? The same concept applies here. Start the day with your best foot forward, coffee or tea in hand, and a hello to your peers.
2. Phone etiquette is so important. When taking business calls, of course, do your job and handle your business. That’s why you’re there. Personal calls, however, need to be handled accordingly depending on the level of privacy required. There’s no harm in letting your office mate know when you’re making a personal call, so they’re not caught off guard, and if it’s too personal, go to a more private area.
3. Small talk makes the day go by faster. Some people say, I’m here to work not to make friends. True. But, you’re working with someone for at least 8 hours a day, and developing good business relationships are important. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know your peers and sharing information that you both can relate to. You don’t have to share your deep darkest secrets or even be friends, although some life long friendships are started in the workplace.
4. Silence is okay. On the other hand, every moment doesn’t need to be filled with noise. There may be long periods of silence and that’s normal. You’re working after all, so there won’t always be time to talk. Don’t get offended if your office mate doesn’t have time to small talk at the moment, respect that. Trust me, there will be time to spill the tea.
5. Be considerate of smells, sounds, etc. Be mindful of smelly foods, crunchy carrots, and Snapchat videos. A quick, “Hey, I’m eating fish today,” would be a nice heads up, so at least your office mate can prepare for the fishy smell that will probably linger in the office for the rest of the day. Also, who doesn’t cringe at the sound of someone crunching and chewing on noisy food? And, let’s be honest, we all scroll through our social media feeds from time to time and come cross a video that grabs our attention. Put your headphones on or turn the volume down when watching your favorite videos, so you’re not creating a distraction. Or share the video with your office mate! Don’t be rude laughing and giggling while leaving your colleague wondering what the hell is so funny.
6. Support each other. Have each other’s back! If your office mate is on a call, takes a meeting, or steps out of the office, help them out if someone has a question or needs direction. You don’t have to do all the leg work, but taking a message or giving some information to support your peer goes a long way.
7. Let your office mate know where you’ll be, send a quick email, or leave a note if you’re leaving the office for an extended period of time. No, they are not your babysitter or supervisor, but again, it’s a courtesy. Especially if you someone is looking for you, it avoids the questioning of your whereabouts, and also avoids your office mate feeling like you’re a disappearing act.
8. Leverage each other. You share a space for a reason. Even if you working on different projects, assignments, etc., you and your peers have knowledge and insight that can help each other, so take advantage! (But, don’t abuse it).We learn something new everyday, so don’t be afraid to ask their opinion or to your offer yours.
9. Before you leave, offer to help. If you’ve had a light workload and a few minutes before you head home for the day, offer to help. Most times they’ll probably tell you they’re fine and will be right behind you, but they will absolutely appreciate that you offered.
10. If you don’t like your office mate, at least be polite. Sometimes personalities clash. We don’t always get along with everyone and that’s okay. The key to remember, especially if you don’t get along , is to be polite or at least respectful. Collaborate when necessary, be mindful of the tips, and don’t throw each other under the bus. Avoid creating tumultuous relationships where you’re consistently out to make each other look worse. It’s a complete distraction and causes havoc in the workplace.
I hope this helps!