Etiquette Daily is the go-to source for opinions on how to behave (and how to get other people to behave) in any number of common situations. As you can imagine, one place where people often demonstrate poor manners is at work. After all, if you hang out somewhere for 40+ hours a week, it’s easy to get sloppy in your interactions. When you work next door to a bunch of other cubicle dwellers with very little privacy, you start to feel like you know each other well – perhaps a little too well.
In March of last year, “epi” asked about how to reduce interruptions. She has a cubicle (which means no door) and doesn’t want to be rude and simply tell people to leave. However, she knows that the constant disruption is impacting her productivity.
The response generated quite a discussion. The etiquette experts recommended putting up a small “Do Not Disturb” flag that can be raised whenever an employee wants to work with no interruptions. It could become part of the workplace culture. Kind of like the “Bat Signal” but in reverse (don’t come crashing in to save the day).
Flags Down, Everyone!
Some responders in the pursuing discussion thought this was a poor idea. Implementing yet one more set of workplace rules might simply make it more difficult for everyone to get things done. Why not ask everyone to correspond with you via email instead? Oops, then your inbox fills up and everyone thinks you are anti-social. You could set up an “Office Hours” sign, but that just makes you look pompous.
Some of the commenters did have excellent ideas. Anne says she simply stands up whenever someone enters her cubicle. It keeps conversations very short and lets her suggest a “walk and talk” if the discussion starts stretching too long. Read the full list of responses to get ideas for how to encourage coworkers to respect your time without seeming unfriendly or stuck up.
What’s Our Take?
Since we are specialists in creating more workplace privacy with our panel extenders and desk mounted dividers, you know we have an opinion! It’s not really about the specific mechanism you use (flags, signs, etc.) The important thing is to have a company-wide conversation about the impact of interruptions on work efficiency to brainstorm options and raise awareness of this problem. There are so many different ways to cut down on disruption, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for your organization’s culture.