10 Tips On How To Behave In An Open Office Environment

By Shatavisha Chakravorty

Post-independence, the Indian work culture was such that it was greatly influenced by the colonial era. That is why there was greater segregation of the working class based on the designation. This gave way to a workplace that had a lot of cubicles and cabins. Luckily, these days, all of those are being done away with and workplaces are shifting to more open workplaces.

Broadly speaking, an open workplace is where people come together to work. Usually, computers are arranged in a straight line and people are able to see each other as they work. This set-up saves a lot of space and allows more people to be accommodated in the office.

Behaving In An Open Office Environment


An open workplace is where your boss or subordinate may sit right next to you and all of you can cater to your respective responsibilities. This article talks about 10 tips on how you should behave in an open office environment.

1. Avoid Personal Conversations

Humans are gregarious animals and it is obvious that as social beings we like to interact with each other. However, make sure that you keep personal conversations with a colleague to a bare minimum. While both of you may enjoy discussing last night's FIFA match, the fact is that things like this eat into both of your productive time and thus, impact your work.

Since there is not much privacy in an open office, others around you will also be impacted by the same.

2. Be Hygienic

Understand the difference between your desk and your bedroom. Do not apply your make-up or clip your nails at the table. Make sure that you bath daily and turn up to work in clean clothes. Taking off your shoes is not encouraged. You may not be a cleanliness freak, but this is the least that you can do as an act of courtesy to your fellow colleagues.

3. Do Not Take Calls In Your Seat

We understand that you will receive a number of calls during your working hours. While some of these are personal, most of them will be professional in nature. Irrespective of the nature of calls, make it a point to walk up to the staircase or the break room to take the call.

If you notice a high call volume during a particular hour of the day, consider temporarily relocating to a conference room for the hour.

4. Keep Your Phone On Mute While Not Speaking

Having said the previous point, sometimes you will have to take a couple of business calls at your desk. In fact, most business phone calls will be conference calls in nature. Unless you are the person speaking, make sure that you keep the phone in mute. This will ensure that the person at the other end of the phone is not affected by all that noise in your open office environment.

5. Keep Your Desk Clean

We understand that you have a lot of documents, stationery and other important things that need to be stored in the office. You will be provided with desks, cupboards and other storage places. Make sure that you make the most of this and store your possessions properly. This will prevent them from getting exchanged with that of your fellow colleagues.

6. Ask For Permission

When you are working with colleagues, you share more than mere spaces. Hence, it is important that you understand that you cannot turn the lights or AC on or off, or open the windows at your convenience. Make sure that you ask the people sitting around you for permission before you do things like this.

7. Avoid Eating At Your Desk

While most workplaces do not allow eating at the desk, there are places where there are no restrictions on this. However, it is a good practise to avoid eating anything at your desk if you are working in an open office. The aroma coming from your food is bound to attract others. They may not approach you directly (because of work ethics) but it will surely affect them.

Obviously, it is not possible for you to bring enough food to go about offering everyone in an open office. Hence, it is wise on your part to avoid eating at your desk altogether.

8. Do Basic Chores

Wherever you work, there will be certain small tasks that need to be done. This includes things like fixing the bulb, emptying the paper basket and other things. Now when we have our own cubicles and cabins, we tend to take utmost care to ensure that things like this are catered to.

However, when it is a common workspace that we are talking about, it is often seen that people neglect these chores and expect somebody else to do them. Make sure that you do not do anything of that sort and take initiatives to get the basic chores done.

9. Mind Your Own Business

While it is okay to seek help from a colleague once in a while, the same cannot be said in the case you do so repeatedly. Nobody really likes being asked for a charger or water every now and then. Thus, if you are working in an open workplace, take conscious efforts to ensure that you carry all that you will need during the course of the day so that you do not have to borrow items from others.

10. Use Headphones

Irrespective of which field or domain you work in, everyday will not bring along an equal workload. There will be days when you are relatively freer. On such days you may want to unwind and relax by watching a couple of YouTube videos.

While there is nothing wrong with this, the fact remains that just because there is lesser work for you to do, it does not mean that it is the same case for everyone around. That is why you must make it a point to use headphones while watching a video or listening to a song.

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