Office Cubicle Etiquette

Thanks to FOCM member Melissa Jameson for finding this treasure from when we both worked at the same place some years ago. The cubicle etiquette document sent out by HR was “slightly” modified to be more enjoyable to read.

Cubicles can present many challenges to our daily work lives. The company has developed a guideline on Cubicle Etiquette to try and decrease some of those challenges.


• When you are on the phone try and keep the volume of your voice low. You may not realize that your voice carries through the cubicles especially if you are under a skylight or you have a loud voice.
• If you are going to need to use a speakerphone book a conference room following GP via Outlook, so that you do not disturb others.
• Your phone ringer should be really loud so that you can hear it ring while you are in the kitchen area and so that when you’re talking with customers or sites, it will sound like we’re really busy. Another thing to do while on the phone is ruffle papers so it sounds like you’re multi-tasking.
• Do not use your cell phone in your cubicle unless it is an emergency. Emergencies are defined as calls to 9-1-1. During business hours it should be turned off. No picture or photo phones are permitted in the building, they are only permitted in the restrooms.
• When having personal or confidential calls, be aware that those around you may be able to hear your conversation. Make sure to speak up so that they can offer advice to you when you’re done.
• Keep personal calls to a minimum. Extended personal calls can be quite entertaining to others.

• When seeing someone for the first time each day, you’re to say, “good morning. Upon subsequent passings, you merely need to say, “acknowledge”. We find this avoids the uncomfortable what-to-say-the-next-time situation. Phrases like: “you look like you tied one on last night” or “what’s with your hair” should be avoided.
• Remember you work in an office and popping your head over the cubicle to yell to someone or trying to talk through the cubicle wall creates a friendly and collegial atmosphere.
• Try to keep the volume of sounds coming from your cubicle loud. (ringer on phone, music, conversations or computer volume and sound effects), it makes for a busy sounding place and we find that when coworkers are irritated by something they are more productive.
• If you eat lunch at your desk consider the benefits to others that the fragrance of food can provide and rather than eat at your desk, take your lunch to someone else’s and sit with them while you eat.
• The use of perfume/cologne should be subtle, but pheromone-based and not carry to other cubes. To make sure everyone gets to detect your fragrance, stop and talk with everyone at least once per day shortly after applying or reapplying perfume/cologne. But remember, not everyone may enjoy the same scents you do or may be allergic to perfume. Those with severe allergies have nothing to fear as Catherine is required to carry an Epi-pen in her tool belt while on the premises and Lori wears it after that.
• Please hold lengthy conversations (business or personal) outside someone’s cubicle, preferably Chris’ office, he likes to interrupt with sarcastic remarks.
• Keep the common areas (printer areas, mailroom, copy rooms, fax machines, restrooms, archive rooms, cafeteria, kitchen, hallways, foyer, reception, that weird dead corner by the back door) neat, because your momma don’t work here.
• Put your large, heavy, fragile personal items on the overhead bins and ledges. While the object could fall and injure the employee in the next cube (plants, pictures, etc.), it enables Shelley to stay well-versed in the office first aid procedures

• Do not enter someone’s cubicle without letting them know you are there. If your colleague is concentrating on a project the surprise of your presence may not get a positive reaction. This can be done by telling them you are there, knocking on the cubicle wall or saying “beep beep” or “knock, knock”, then wait for an invitation to enter the cubicle as they may not have time at that moment to talk with you.
• An employee’s chair is not an Inbox (Kelly), a mailbox or an open invitation to go sit down and chat (Catherine). Use the appropriate delivery areas to provide documents to another employee, if there is a designated location identified.
• If the employee you need to speak with is on the phone or having a conversation with someone else do not wait outside their cubicle until they are done, step right into the cubicle. This will annoy them until they get off the phone to speak with you. Whoever they’re talking to can be called back. You may also use hand gestures or whisper the issue to them while they are on the phone.
• Information on a colleague’s computer screen is not for your viewing unless asked.
• Conversations had with other employees in your colleague’s cubicle are private. It is inevitable in the cubicle environment that you may overhear a conversation, however refrain from answering a question you overheard asked in the cubicle next to you. If your opinion is required your colleague will ask you for it. It is thought that this cannot apply to Chris, he does not seem to possess the genetic composition to do this.
• If you need a chair, look for extra chairs around the area, not another employee’s chair. If you must borrow another employee’s chair, ensure that they are not in the office and return it immediately, if not sooner, when you are done. Imagine coming back and having to hunt down your chair after being gone for an extended period of time (days). This happened to one person and they’re still out on leave due to post traumatic chair loss stress disorder.
• Bringing in some personal items and a few pictures to personalize your work area is acceptable and highly encouraged. This should be done in moderation, good taste and items should be appropriate to a business environment, it is not recommended to completely clutter your cube with items on the walls. The cube walls are not designed for this purpose and can cause damage to the fabric. If you have a question about what is appropriate to put in your workspace, check with your manager, HR, Administration, Mike Sutton or Kyle Shotwell
• Because there is no door on cubicles that means your colleagues office supplies and personal items (tissues, candy, etc) are community property. I know this sucks, but hey we own all this stuff and we’ve given you a job, so too bad. This can also cause fun to watch fights among coworkers and hey, we all need a break or to hit someone everyone once in a while, right?. If you take something personal of someone’s, please return it or leave them a dollar.

We all spend a large percent of our time in our cubicles.
Please try and work together on making the cubicle environment
a pleasant place to spend time and be productive and if each of us does this and that makes three other people do this and so on, the world will be a better place and perhaps the achievement of world peace or is it whirled peas will be accomplished in our lifetime.

3 thoughts on “Office Cubicle Etiquette”

  1. This is classic! I poured myself a Jon Matheus “iced tea” before sitting down to read on my afternoon away from the cube farm.
    I wish I could print & highlight portions for coworkers haha.

  2. Hilarious!! I’m pretty sure I broke all of the cubical rules of etiquette back in the day…Thank goodness for my colleagues I now work from home…

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