These are some guidelines that we would like you to consider for your workspace to be as productive and as harmonious as possible. As a general policy, it is important in the work area to allow yourself to be accessible to others but adopts clearly understood signals for when you are busy and would not like to be disturbed. 

  1. Keeping space tidy and orderly - Regardless of your cleanliness preferences, the office space especially when shared must be kept clean and tidy. Within open-plan workspaces, there are designated aisles or walking routes to use. Kindly use them and do not be tempted to take shortcuts across other people’s work areas. Keep your desk tidy and show courtesy when using any shared spaces.
  2. Be Noise Conscious - To ensure that you do not disrupt those with whom you share a workspace, kindly keep noise to a minimum. If you work best with some music in the background, use headphones to keep the music just to yourself and ensure that you do not bother someone who prefers silence. If you receive calls frequently, keep your ringer volume at a reasonable level or off to ensure that the tone does not resonate throughout the office and disrupt others. Never use any device which might cause disruption to others, e.g.a speaker phone or a radio in the workplace, unless this is necessary for official purposes for which you have express permission.
  3. Respect Other's Differences - Bear in mind at all times that the individual(s) with whom you share a workspace may be quite different from you, it is important to remain respectful. Where you are uncomfortable or concerned about the habits or preferences of others, please speak with the Human Resources Manager. It is ill-advised to take offence or make disparaging comments or approaching the co-worker directly, as doing so may make your relationship an adversarial one in the future.
  4. Keep Conversations Work Appropriate - Keeping to work-appropriate topics while in the office is a good idea in any setting, but it is vital in shared ones. Because you are sharing a space, your conversation is not a private one. Keep this in mind when. Be mindful of this when having conversations. Do not speak too loudly in shared workspaces as you may be interrupting another fellow worker from getting on with their work and never shout to a colleague who is at a workstation several feet away to attract their attention.

You should always refrain from speaking openly about any issues of confidentiality. Perhaps, you are a manager/supervisor who works in the same work area as your team. If so, and you are speaking on the phone about a certain issue make sure you move to a more private enclosed space to make or take the call. This is also applicable to personal calls.

  1. Smells - Odours are often one of the most complained about aspects of working in an open-plan office. Therefore, make sure you practice good hygiene and do not make the mistake of going overboard on personal grooming products such as aftershave or perfume. If you must eat at your desk, it should be limited to relatively neutral smelling foods. Food with strong odours i.e. onions, garlic and sauces are not allowed within the workspace area. All meals should be taken in the lunchroom/kitchen.
  2. Tact and Diplomacy - Should you accidentally overhear a conversation that you know was intended to remain private between the people having the conversation, do not tell other people what you overheard later as this may be as good as office gossip. Likewise, should some of your colleagues be holding an informal meeting, do not just join in, if you have not been invited. Ask yourself if you really need to be there. 

In general, it is quite easy to get along well in an open plan working environment. What you should always be thinking about is being accessible to people wherever possible but still maintaining boundaries whenever you need to focus on work, showing consideration to others and being tidy and courteous. Remembering that not everybody will share exactly the same values as you is also important but in general, to adopt a policy of treating people how you’d like to be treated yourself is usually a good benchmark to ensuring a harmonious workspace.