In today’s business world, it is very common for business owners to decide for an open-office plan, where many colleagues work together in one large room.

Although this decision is very cost effective, it eliminates the ability for employees to have their own personal office. Because space is shared, there are rules of etiquette that must be followed in order to keep peace and harmony in the office.

1~ Respect. Just because there is someone sitting close to you throughout the day, that does not mean that they are available to chat at any time. Respect the time and privacy of your co-workers, and remember that everyone is there to work. Asking a work-related question is acceptable, but small talk should wait until break time.

2~ Don’t Distract. Try to be aware of your body movements during the day. Tapping a pen on the table, shaking your legs and fidgeting can be a steady distraction to those around you, making it hard for them to concentrate. Try to avoid loud phone calls, or excuse yourself to the break room if a personal call is necessary.

3~ Be Aware of Smells. Many people are bothered and are even allergic to strong odors. If you are working in close proximity with others, it’s best to avoid strong perfume or cologne. Eat meals and snacks in the break room, where the scent won’t bother others. If you visit the gym before work, pay close attention to your personal grooming too, ensuring that you don’t have offensive odor.

4~ Don’t Arrive Sick. When you work closely with others, germs can easily be transmitted throughout the office. For this reason, it’s best to stay home when you’re sick. Keep hand sanitizer at your work space and wipe down your computer keyboard and phone regularly to help prevent the spread of germs.

5~ Be Clean. A messy desk can be a huge distraction to others, and makes you look unprofessional. Keep your work space clean and try to tidy everything up daily, before you go home. Your colleagues will appreciate the effort.

6~ Respect Everyone’s Space. Just because a colleague’s work space is within reach of yours, this does not mean that you can help yourself to their supplies. Respect the space of others. If you need a pen, or note pad, visit the supply closet and don’t just grab someone’s things.

7~ Have Patience. An open-office environment means that there will be a mixture of people, personalities and ideas. Be patient and respectful with others, as opinions will differ daily. Try to keep an open mind and keep a positive attitude

When the rules of open-office etiquette are observed, their office can become a productive place for camaraderie and collaboration.