Open offices became the ubiquitous hallmark of modern companies. Started as the answer to the soul-sucking cubicle farms popularized within the ’80s and ’90s, the open office promised collaboration, equality, productivity, and identity as the coolest office on the block. This is also one of the best office layouts in Malaysia. However, some etiquettes are required when having such an office layout. Here are tips for open office etiquettes in Malaysia.
Tips for open office etiquettes in Malaysia
1. Respect privacy.
In open offices, employees typically work close to each other – in fact, you could probably read what your colleague is typing on his computer from your own seat. This can cause a feeling of insecurity and discomfort in workers. The distraction of feeling like they’re being watched can lead to a drop in productivity.
“One of the most dreaded aspects of open offices is the visibility of your screen,” said Darko Jacimovic, founder of WhatToBecome. “Staring at other people’s displays is an absolute no when it comes to open office etiquette.”
To avoid this, try to position furniture in a way that provides as much privacy as possible for employees.
2. Set clear expectations for your open office.
As a manager, you need to start out on the right foot with your open office. An example is by implementing a clear set of rules and expectations for your employees.
If you don’t implement expectations as soon as you move into your open office, your employees will create office rules as they go along. The problem with this is that it can lead to resentment if unwritten rules are not understood or followed by everyone.
You should make a point of leading by example. Another way is by eliciting feedback consistently to see what is working and what is not. This will help your employees feel heard and like they have a say in the office culture.
3. Be conscious of noise.
Noise travels far in an open office. Even if talking or the music doesn’t distract you, it may distract those around you, hindering productivity.
“The noise from your space should be at a minimum,” said Smith. “This means no listening to voicemail via speakerphone, no singing/humming/whistling, no playing the drums with your fingers on the edge of your desk, and no perpetual gum-snapping. Little habits you barely register in yourself have a way of quickly driving your co-workers batty.”
You don’t have to be silent or keep to yourself the entire day. However, be aware of your volume, especially if you notice others getting sidetracked or frustrated.
4. Be considerate.
You should “pay attention to colleagues’ cues,” said Brett Good, a senior district president for Robert Half. If someone seems disturbed, anxious, annoyed, or affected in any way by you or your actions, try your best to accommodate them. You should also be conscientious and aware of what your co-workers are doing – like if they are on an important call or focusing on a complicated project – and act accordingly around them.
Recognize your office boundaries, and continually check in with yourself. Do not forget others around you and make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Open offices depend on strong communication and a willingness from everyone to make them work.
5. Keep your space clean.
Since you don’t have your own office or cubicle, your space is also everyone else’s in a way. Even if you have your own desk, you still share the area with others, meaning your mess can affect them.
“Your workspace is in full view of others, and the way you keep your space reflects upon you and your department,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Neat and professional is the only way to go.”
Be sure to dust and wipe down your desk each week, don’t leave old food or cold cups of coffee out overnight. Most importantly, try your best to keep your station organized.
Polly Kay, senior marketing manager at English Blinds, said that an overcrowded desk can lead to unfortunate accidents, so it’s best to keep it minimal. “Precariously tottering piles of paper, top-heavy plants, and cups of coffee too close to the edge can all get knocked over by others.”
Following the tips for open office etiquettes are very important if you want to have a peaceful and productive workplace. If nobody follows these etiquettes, many issues may arise and the aura of the workplace will be disrupted.
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