Cubicle Etiquette

Most offices adopt the “open-plan” concept of work. This essentially means that there are fewer offices with doors and more use made of the open space

Employees will still have their own space that is defined by the size of their cubicle, but the cubicle is placed within the office area with other people and cubicles around.

The open-plan and cubicle concept of working has its advantages, including:

  1. Employees are still allowed their privacy, within their cubicle.
  2. The environment that is created is one that is open and friendly.
  3. It breaks down barriers to communication- being walls and doors – and makes it easy to approach people;
  4. Work colleagues can easily approach each another to discuss a work matter, instead of setting up formal meetings;


When working within a cubicle, there are some known and unspoken office rules to abide by.

Below is a summary of some of these:

  1. Eating food in an open-plan area:
    1. Keep your lunch in the kitchen, with labels. This will avoid anyone eating or throwing away your food.
    2. Some people prefer drinking from their personal mugs. If you are one of these people then once you are done, rinse and keep your coffee mug with you, else it might easily be used by someone else!
    3. Do not steal your colleagues lunch or try their special tea without asking! This is rude to say the least. If you have a special tea, keep this with you in your cubicle rather than in the general tea-station area.
    4. Avoid eating food with strong odours in open area. Rather go to the canteen or lunch area and enjoy your food there.
    5. Dispose of trash in kitchen. It is unprofessional and inconsiderate to throw away your Pizza boxes; Burger containers etc in the waste-bins within the office area.


  1. Eaves dropping:
    1. Do not peer over the walls and listen in on conversations.
    2. Grant your neighbours private time (cell phone, tea break) If you wish to talk to them and notice that they are on the phone, do not stand by their cubicle and wait until they are finished! Come back later or leave a note for them to see you when they are done.


  1. Keep sounds to respectful level:
    1. Do not listen to your voice-mail messages on speaker phone.
    2. Turn off your computer and cell phone sounds.
    3. Avoid shouting across cubicles or throwing items across at each other.


  1. On the phone:
    1. No hovering nearby when someone on the phone.
    2. Keep your voice at a moderate level when speaking to others on your phone.
    3. If you have a long personal call to make, rather make this call in a private area so others do not have to listen to your call.


  1. No door:
    1. Although there is no door to knock on, you still do not barge into your colleagues’ personal space.
    2. Approach from an angle where they can see you, announce yourself and once acknowledged you can step closer.
    3. It is also considerate to lightly knock on their panel or table to announce yourself.


And last but not least, keep your shoes on!

An open plan office is still a working environment in which you are expected to conduct yourself as a professional.

Use the tips within this article to communicate with your colleagues with ease whilst still adhering to the etiquette of working within a cubicle!