Cubicle Courtesies


Remember your first college roommate experience? Living in close quarters with someone other than a family member. Perhaps a complete stranger. Sharing a bathroom. Restraining yourself from eating all their homemade chocolate chip cookies. Not partying with friends in the room until the wee hours of the morning.  Respecting the invisible boundaries that must be formed for a positive and peaceful experience.

Fast forward to post college years and the work place, where so many of these invisible boundaries and acts of respect still need to exist -especially in today’s cubicle-driven workspace. But sometimes they don’t. Because people get too comfortable. Or they don’t care. Or they just don’t realize they are being inconsiderate. Take note of the tips below if you wish you mind your cubicle courtesies!

Knock, Knock.

‘No door’ doesn’t equate to ‘open door.’ Since cubicles have no doors to close, one of the most common complaints is that co-workers simply barge-in.  A simple “Is now a good time?” should do the trick.

What Happens in the Cube, Stays in the Cube.

Not necessarily. When working in an open space environment, co-workers can hear nearly everything. If  a confidential discussion is in order, try to do it at another location. Use your indoor voice. This respects not only your cube mates, but also helps to maintain your own privacy in close quarters.

Don’t Hover. Don’t Hang-Out.

You need to talk to a co-worker about a project (or maybe last night’s episode of Downton Abbey. Or Monday Night Football.) They’re on the phone. Back off! Go away! Don’t hover or continue to wait until they are done with their conversation. Try again later or give the old “call me” hand signal.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.

Although you might be tempted to kick back and relax after a big lunch, remember that you’re in an office and you should remain professional at all times. A friend recently shared with me that some of the individuals he works with like to walk around the office with no shoes on! As he so eloquently stated, “unless you work at the beach, keep your shoes on!” This is true for ALL office and professional environments – not just cubicles!

Sit down. Pipe Down.

Stop standing up and yelling over the cubicles! Mute the sound on your computer. Get a set of headphones. No speaker phone. And please don’t walk through the cubicles shouting “What day is it? Hey! What day is it?” Of course the answer to that is “Hump Day.” Even when it is not Wednesday. Because it is funny and shows you know your pop culture.

Hands Off!

Just because the cubicle is an open space doesn’t mean that all the property within its’ boundaries is open for your taking..or borrowing. Respect others. Respect their stuff.

Make a Mess and Leave OR Leave your Cubicle a Mess.

No, no, noooo! Open space and limited boundaries sometimes leads to the Kitchen Syndrome: a disorder in which messes are left in common areas because Mom will clean it up. Unless you’re working with your Mom, clean up after yourself and don’t use someone’s cubicle for your impromptu meetings. (BTW – I’m one Mom who won’t clean up after my own kids!) A large grouping of cubicles also make one HUGE office space. I spy your mess in your work world. Keep it tidy!


I haven’t done justice in addressing common cubicle courtesies. Please comment below to tell me others behaviors that drive you cube crazy! For a completely immature chuckle regarding cubicles, just Google “office cubicle  pranks.” Gave me some ideas!

Mind Your Manners,








  1. Cubes by a window present both a nice perk and some challenges. It can become crazy if the weather is expected to change or changes as people from all across the office venture over to see if it is raining or snowing and then discuss. This can happen in succession all afternoon for example! Very distracting!

    Eating something in the cube that is either really smelly or just plain loud. I always know when the guy adjoining my cube has chips or an apple for a snack…I can hear him chewing them! But not everybody likes to use the lunch area.

    Bodily noises coming from a cube to include blowing your nose, sniffing constantly, clearing the throat, excessive sneezing or coughing, burping and gas.

    Cell phones ringing in another cube. They need to be on vibrate.

    • Kelly

      Barb, I most certainly should have contacted you before I wrote this blog! You added several excellent aspects of cubicle courtesy. Thank you! It sounds like you speak from first hand experience. The window view is a particularly good one that many wouldn’t consider.

  2. Here’s one: eating smelly food at your desk. Or having some obnoxious Air Stinkifier fumigating everyone. I don’t like breathing chemical air “fresheners”. Or my neighbor’s tuna salad.

    P.S. My boss used to clip his toenails at his desk. I guess he was the boss, but…blech.

    • Kelly

      I have nothing to say to the toenail clipping. I don’t care who you are. Just plain disgusting! Thanks for contributing Danielle!

  3. Personal calls for 2-3 hours about kids, car wrecks, whats for supper tonight, boyfriends etc, etc, etc. I could go on and on and on.
    Discussing political issues
    A select few sending texts and leaving certain people out and then everyone laughs at the same time.
    Standing at someone elses cubicle and breathing on them when they have the flu

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