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In Shared Offices, New Etiquette Evolves

(Career News Service)—FOR PEOPLE WHO USED TO HAVE CLOSED minds about open offices and buzzy co-working spaces, new rules have come to their rescue. They’ve also given a lift to the companies that employ them.

According to a report by Henry Alford in The New York Times: By 2020, fully half of the work force may be freelance and thus unchained to a specific desk day-in day-out, week-in, week-out. This means new office etiquette will be taking hold before we know it. And this also means fitting in with more people in less space than you may have had in office settings in the past.

On the positive side, according to Office Works, an Australian firm, open office plans enable easy interaction and maximum collaboration between workers, while keeping office space costs and rental costs to a minimum. But whenever people share space, they also tend to share their habits, both good and bad.

Certain rules can make shared office space more livable and pleasant, starting today. These include:

1. Try not to eat at your desk. When you do, you’re “sharing” with others, who may not appreciate the associated aromas or repeated, interruptive, crackling sounds of packaging that you may not realize is sending signals to others around you.


2. Keep voices at moderate levels, no matter how obvious this rule may seem.


3. Schedule meetings for conference rooms or more private areas, even if it’s “just for a 20-minute catch-up.” In fact, schedule them for conference rooms especially when it’s for a 20-minute catch-up.


4. Take an “extra day” off when you’re sick. Then offer to work that extra day remotely from home, in order to reduce the risk of passing on an illness to others.


5. Respect others’ privacy when deadlines loom. Remember, too: In a study helpful study titled: “The Transparency Paradox: A Role for Privacy in Organizational Learning and Operational Control,” researchers from Harvard Business School found co-workers tend to be more productive when they are given or find a dedicated level of privacy. A related finding showed more productivity when workers do not feel as if they are being directly subjected to managers’ oversight and  scrutiny.


 Finally, consider how long (or short) your answers are, especially when there are more than a few co-workers located in your area. Do you tend to answer in one-or two-sentence responses to questions? If not, why not.

As Annie Stevens, managing partner at ClearRock, a Boston-based executive coaching firm, puts it bluntly in regard to workplace communication that should be at once simple, and effective: “Be brief, be brilliant, be gone.”       #

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