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How Not To Annoy People If You Work In An Open-Plan Office

A little personal hygiene goes a long way.

06/09/2017 9:45 AM AEST | Updated 06/09/2017 9:45 AM AEST
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"Even if you are drinking the company Kool-Aid or working with your best friend, there is always someone that will grind your gears."

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 has meant that many offices are now open plan, which is meant to increase communication 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 their baby's sleeping patterns -- every single day.

Don't disregard personal hygiene.

I've been guilty of exercising in the morning, then showering myself with perfume instead of water. If it's occasional or you don't sit close to someone 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 day you return in an act of sympathy grabbing desperation. Just take the day off.

Don't eat your colleague's food.

This is gospel in a workplace, yet to this day, it still happens. The only exceptions are condiments, which appear to be 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? This means the stragglers have to sit next to their managers, again. Share the desk solitude love, people!

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 lunch break, 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.

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Don't say you're 'so busy'.

Chances are, if you are busy, your colleagues are too. If you say the 'busy' word often, you're probably compensating for not actually doing anything. Choose your words wisely.

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 you're important.

You may be the CEO, or you may be the temporary administration assistant. Whether you're 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 Kool-Aid or working with your best friend, there is always someone that will grind your gears.

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 Tattslotto win comes up.

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