11 things you should never, ever do in an open plan office.

Offices are bizarre environments. You are locked in a room for 38 hours per week (if you are lucky) and forced to share space (if you are not-so-lucky) with a bunch of non-likeminded people. Cost cutting and revenue streaming have meant that many offices are now open plan, which is meant to increase communications and create stronger and more fluid relationships. I can tell you right now that open-plan offices achieve none of those things.

No matter the layout of the office, it is still usually a shared space featuring an eclectic mix of people, who are all pushed together and forced to smile, pretend they remember each other’s names and be as polite as possible. I find the hardest part of working in an office the ‘being polite’ part and this is mainly because so many people on this earth do not realise how irritating they can be.

If you work in an office and wish to avoid being on someone’s hit list – do not do any of the following.

Don’t tell the same story over and over

Sadly, listening skills aren’t a standard workplace requirement. Many people don’t know how to cut their sentences short, nor do they realise that their (pretend) listener really doesn’t need to know about your baby’s sleeping patterns – every single day.

Don’t disregard personal hygiene

I’ve been guilty of exercising in the morning and then showering myself with perfume instead of water. If it’s occasional and you don’t sit close to someone or in an enclosed space, that’s fine. If you do, everyone can smell your must, trust me.

Don’t go too far pretending you’re sick

We all know there is going to be a pre-empted absence the day after someone starts to complain of a sore throat. Leave it at that. Don’t send long and detailed text messages outlining your fake sickness and don’t fake cough the entire return day in an act of sympathy grabbing desperation. Just take the day off.

Don’t eat others food

This is gospel in a workplace, yet to this day, it still happens. The only exceptions are condiments, which appear communal, but if there is only one serve left, it is not yours.


Don’t sit at the same desk all the time if you hot desk

What is the point of hot desking if someone is rushing in early to get the ‘good’ desk which leaves the stragglers having to sit next to their managers, again?

Don’t speak for the sake of speaking

This is particularly relevant in meetings. Yes, we all know you can talk, and the more you do, the more we realise you don’t know actually know what you’re talking about. You will seem more switched on if you switch off.

Don’t be late

If there’s one thing office workers value, it’s their time. Whether it be an hour lunchbreak, or leaving at 5.01pm, almost every minute of the day is calculated. Do not be late to meetings. Do not contact people over trivial work matters out of hours and of course, there’s that whole talking for too long thing. Don’t do that.

Don’t say you’re SAH BUSY

Chances are, if you are busy, your colleagues are too. What is even higher odds is – if you say the ‘busy’ word often, you’re probably compensating for not actually doing anything. Choose your words wisely.

Office etiquette
"Cost cutting and revenue streaming has meant that many offices are now open plan." Image via Getty.

Don’t touch someone when you are speaking to them

This not only intrudes on personal space, it is a sneakily provocative move to make the other person feel intimidated.

Don’t backstab

Offices are rife with cliques and whispers. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all. At least not to a colleague anyway.

Don’t act like your important

You may be the CEO, or you may be the temporary administration assistant. Whether your climbing the ladder or sitting on top of it, never let anyone feel that they are beneath you.

Hardly anyone will admit to liking an office environment. Even if you are drinking the company cordial and even if you are working with your best friends, there is always someone that grind you up the wrong way. Be humble, respect the differences of those around you and don’t shove your opinions down someone’s throat. Most people are just there to pay the bills too, until that big lottery win comes up.

For more careers content, click here: 

‘I’ve realised that what I thought was my career isn’t my career at all.’

“When someone asks you for more at work, never say ‘I can’t’. Use these two words instead.”

Working from home? Here’s how to make sure you still get things done.

The award-winning podcast Mamamia Out Loud is doing their first live show. There will be laughs, disagreements and you can meet the hosts afterwards! We’re also donating $5 of every ticket price to Share The Dignity so grab your friends and come along to share the love and laughs, get your tickets here.