If you have your own office, you’re usually the only one who has to look at (and smell) your old take-out boxes and candy wrappers. But if you're in an open office, literally everyone has to see your desk space every single day. You don’t want your co-workers to think you’re the office slob, do you? Or even worse, you don’t want your boss to think your the office slob...
Unless you're eating a turkey sandwich and Greek yogurt, take your lunch break somewhere else besides your desk. Not only will this give you a mental break, but sparing your co-workers from smelling your tuna salad will also earn you a lot of brownie points. On the flipside, if you’re eating some delicious cheese fries, you don’t want your co-workers swooping in to steal them all.
You probably don’t want every single one of your co-workers knowing the intimate details of your personal life, so refrain from taking personal calls at your desk. If you start talking on the phone, you will distract everyone around you, and they will all start listening in on your awkward conversation with your gynecologist and gossip about it later. So, save yourself the ridicule and save them the distraction.
Don’t be the co-worker who thinks their music is the best music and forces everyone to listen to it by playing it on the computer’s speakers. You probably don’t want to listen to Shelly’s show tunes or Eric’s Taylor Swift playlist on repeat, so they probably don’t want to listen to yours either. (Unless it’s happy hour, then you HAVE to blast Rihanna throughout the entire office).
Everyone likes to take a Facebook or Pinterest break every once in a while to rejuvenate themselves, but when you start doing it too much, people start to notice. You don’t want the rest of your office thinking that you’re wasting company time, so limit your brain breaks to about 10 minutes, and only take a couple of those a day.
You may be trying to frantically finish a project on Friday afternoon, but if some of your co-workers need to have a meeting, they aren’t going to relocate just so you can concentrate. And you shouldn’t expect them to. Acknowledge that they have equal rights to the space, and either put your headphones in or find a secluded area to work for the next hour or two.
There’s not much privacy in an open office to start with, so if you start “borrowing” paper clips from your co-worker’s desk without asking or staring at your co-worker’s computer while they’re working on a project, you’re depleting their privacy even more. Before you do something, ask yourself: would you mind if your co-worker did the same thing to you?
Germs are spread very easily in open offices, so if you know you’re sick, don’t come in. You won’t be doing anyone any favors by bringing all of your germs into the office whilst trying to get work done in your cough syrup and Tamiflu haze. Stay home and get yourself better because that’s what you’d want your co-workers to do for you.
Unless you have an overactive bladder, there’s no reason for you to get up from your desk on a regular basis. Getting up and moving around is very distracting to those around you, so if possible, combine your coffee and bathroom breaks into one. If you can’t do that, at least be as quiet as possible when you do leave your desk.
Just because your co-workers are close to you, it doesn’t mean you can strike up a conversation with them any time you want. They’re trying to get work done, and you should be too -- so keep the office banter to a minimum and chat with your buds during lunch or after hours.