Oct 28, 2020

Top 10 Rules of Open Plan Etiquette

Top 10 rules of open plan etiquette

Develop a set of shared expectations regarding noise

The acoustical performance of open plans is by no means doomed. With some conscientious behavior and good design, they can be productive, comfortable—and even fairly private. Here’s a list of the top ten things everyone can do to help:

  1. Use a reasonable voice level
    Don’t raise your voice during in-person or phone conversations. Depending on your natural voice level, you might need to pay more or less attention to this recommendation.
  2. Don’t hold meetings in your workspace
    If you’ve got time to schedule the meeting, plan to hold it in an appropriate setting.
  3. Find a more isolated location
    Gotten onto an interesting topic or into a heated debate? Move into a more appropriate location. Though collaboration is important, most of us still spend the majority of our time on tasks that require concentration. Overhearing your conversation is more likely to disrupt others’ work than augment it.
  4. Don’t talk or yell past neighbors
    You have to raise your voice to talk to someone two or three workstations away and anyone within earshot isn’t going to appreciate it. Get up and go over to the person’s desk, call or communicate electronically.
  5. Don’t use speaker phones
    Not only will you raise your voice level, but those around you will hear both sides of your conversation. If you need to use your hands while on the phone, get a hands-free headset.
  6. Manage ringers and notifications
    On desktop and mobile phones, tablets and computers. Limit the number of rings and turn down their volume, put your mobile on vibrate, don’t listen to voicemail on speaker phone, and turn notifications off.
  7. Look before interrupting
    If someone’s visibly occupied and your question can wait, return later or send a message they can reply to at a better time.
  8. Don’t create unnecessary noise
    Pencil tapping, finger rapping, singing, humming and playing music over speakers won’t win anyone over, so try to break those habits. Also ask that squeaky chairs, drawers, doors and other items in your area be fixed.
  9. Respect others’ privacy
    Sometimes you’re going to hear business or personal information not intended for your ears. Act as if you didn’t hear it, and don’t add to the noise level by repeating it.
  10. Respect others’ concerns
    If a coworker approaches you with a noise complaint, odds are they aren’t doing it maliciously, but because the noise is genuinely bothering them. Take a moment to discuss if you can reasonably reduce it.

When it comes to etiquette, we all have our pet peeves and know the offenders. You can speak to them (be direct, but kind because they might not have realized they were causing a distraction) or discretely hang our Office Etiquette Tips poster in their area and tiptoe away…

But keep in mind that etiquette should be a complement to—not a substitute for—design strategies. The remainder of the acoustical burden has to be borne by the workplace itself, not shouldered by its occupants

Please click below to download a poster (PDF)

Office Etiquette Tips   And Ten More…