The 3 Top Rules for Cubicle Farm Civility

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Wilma Jones

One of the most powerful strategies to add more harmony to the workplace is through kindness. Just to be clear, being kind is defined as being considerate to others, friendly and generous, in the manner we interact with others. In my book, "Is It Monday Already?! 197 Tools to Start Living Happier at Work," I refer to kindness as the 'Killer App.'

In the software development field of information technology field a' killer app' is one that provides a core or foundation for a larger technology. In workplace wellness, kindness can provide the foundation for creating an organization with thriving, engaged employees.

Kindness is powerful because it affects the person being kind, the recipient of the kind act and anyone who happens the witness the kind act. Being kind to others in the workplace is like dropping a pebble in a body of still water. The ripples of the impact continue because kindness is contagious. When one person is kind in the workplace it influences others to be kind as well.

One critical component to developing an atmosphere where workplace happiness is the norm is the involvement and leadership of the management team, or in small businesses, the owner(s). Leaders in the organization must model kind behavior in the way they interact with their teams in order to make employees understand kindness as a component of organization culture.

Kindness to your colleagues includes appropriate behavior toward one another. It's the little things that can annoy and irritate us and our coworkers. One area that can be an issue is the open cubicle environments so many of us work in. Because cubicles allow others sight, sound and smell access to your work space, there is a need for cubicle manners.

Some people just don't understand how to work in an open environment. Even if you are lucky enough to have high walls dividing your cubes, potentially blocking some of the sight lines, remember that folks can still hear you and smell the aromas emitting from your space, so act accordingly.

#1. Lunch at your desk

Stinky food. Crunchy food. Discarded food in your desk trash can. If people eat at their desks, which is more common now than ever, remember to ensure your food is not too pungent and doesn't cause you to create a lot of crunchy sounds when you eat.

#2. Personal hygiene belongs at home

No nail trimming. Hands or feet. Teeth flossing. Nail polishing - the smells, people, the smells! These activities belong in the rest room, or even better, handled at home.

#3. Phones

Using a speakerphone in a cubicle farm is just rude. No other way to say it. Get a headset. When using your cell phone, cut the ringer volume down, or put the phone on vibrate only. Have short conversations using a low tone of voice. Or excuse yourself to go to a conference room or somewhere more private for a longer conversation or one that involves private details (medical, financial, relationships, etc).

Respect the space. Because it's space, not walls.

What other tips do you recommend?