On the tails of my publishing a blog last week about cubicles, my boss dropped off an article from the local paper about rules for "cubicle courtesy." It contained a ten-point bulleted list that I'm still laughing about. The "tips" are not explained in any way, leaving the casual, smart-aleck reader (in other words, me) to fill in the lines herself. Here's the list with my personal observations about each tactic for "building strong bonds and fostering productivity":
- Be a courteous guest. [What exactly does it mean to be a courteous guest in a cubicle? Does it mean you should call first before you stick your head over the cubicle wall? Or does it mean that you should avoid being really rude by not saying things like "That loser doesn't have a door."]
- Use your "library voice." [This means that at least three times a day you should ask someone where the Periodicals section is.]
- Curb casual conversation. [I don't know if the author means you should avoid speaking casually yourself, as in when someone asks you how you're doing, you should just freeze them with a stony glare; or if you personally have to prevent everyone else from having casual conversations, as in loudly blowing a whistle and yelling, "Delores is talking about her car again!!"
- Stay home with the sniffles. [I live in the Sinus Congestion Capital of the World. If I stayed home every time I got the sniffles, I would never be seen again.]
- Have good scents. [If this is a play on words, I'm not interested. Take your pun-writing self on over to Readers Digest. But if you really mean "scents," then how, pray tell, would one decide what scent is good and what is not? Speaking for myself, the smell of pizza would not bother me at all, but a gardenia-scented candle may induce a minor seizure.]
- Ask before borrowing. [Well, no kidding.]
- Avoid décor disasters. [Again, very subjective — See point 5. Am I to assume not everyone would be enamored of my "Wall of Tony Soprano"? Do I have the right to be grumpy if your cubicle's feng shui is all wrong?]
- Hit the right tune. [Oh, let's not. Let's just avoid music in the office altogether, unless it's coming through a set of earphones. There's Barry White and there's AC/DC, and never the twain shall meet.]
- Avoid phone faux pas. [Again, this would be subjective, but I think it's safe to say you should never, ever speak on your cubicle phone to A) a physician , B) your spouse with whom you're having a spat, or C) anyone else.]
- Be friendly. [How am I supposed to do that if you won't let me have a casual conversation?]
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.