Need ideas for cubicle etiquette awareness

May 08, 2014

I'm looking for some novel and interesting ways to encourage employees to be more mindful of their neighbors in the cube farm. We've displayed lists of dos and don'ts with ho-hum results. Everyone thinks it doesn't apply to them, but to the other person or department.

A face-to-face training class would probably be overkill. Not everyone would go through an e-learning course. You guys always come up with great ideas, so I'm hoping something fresh and different will come to someone's mind. Thanks for any ideas you can share!

34 Replies
Bruce Graham

Alex O'Byrne said:

Bruce Graham said:

@Nick - priceless idea...

+1 @Bob, although after a paws for thought, and thorough, due consideration....I think the easiest and cheapest strategy is to attach one of these to the top of each cubicle.

The "paws" a deliberate storylion reference or a Friday afternoon typo?

StoryLion wrote that piece re the video cameras while I went off for a cheeky whisky, and he introduced his first Friday Afternoon Pun.

Well spotted.

Back to the thread....................

Diana Myers

Hi Beverly,

As I read your initial post, I could only think of bad drivers...  If you ask people to estimate the number of bad drivers on the road, the numbers are near 80-90%, but well less than half will admit to being a bad driver themselves.

As part of whatever you share, you could do an anonymous survey of all the people who work in these "cube farms."  Include a list of the annoying things they might experience when working in cubes and ask them to check the ones they've experienced at work.  You could also have rate the behaviors from "no big deal/not bothersome" to "horrific/make me want to scream."  Provide them the opportunity to add disrespectful behaviors/situations they've either experienced or witnessed.  You could even provide a section for them to make specific recommendations of behaviors that demonstrate respect when working in cubes (without naming names or removing them if they did).

From the survey results, you could create really interesting, telling statistics.  

  • 18 of 21 people in our group want a pleasant workplace/cube environment free from smells, noice, rude behaviors, whatever...
  • 5 of 21 people feel the current behaviors live up to their standards of respectful and courteous behavior
  • 20 of 21 people don't want to smell another person's lunch / listen to another person's conference call / personal call...etc.
  • 15 of 21 people would like to know how to address a coworker's behavior, but they don't know how to do it or what to say
  • 16 of 21 people would want to know if something they are doing is distracting those who work around them

With information like that, you could create branching scenarios, questions or other activities to use in a training program.  You could also create a really cool infographic that could be posted as a reminder.

Just a few suggestions, but I'm curious to see what you decide to do and how you implement it, so please keep us posted.  Best of luck!



Lu Post

In a previous leadership role I had in which everyone worked in very small, close-nit cubicles, we worked together as a group and created a Team Cubie Charter. We limited our charter to only 10 items, so we had to come up with the top 10 most important elements. We started with a flip chart and had everyone gave their thoughts on what they felt was acceptable and unacceptable in a cubicle setting. We wrote all suggestions downs and then whittled them down until we had the top 10. We then took these and created a very nice laminated posted that was hung in several locations in the office to serve as a visual cue and reminder.

Even though we chose only the top 10, by throwing all ideas out, it helped to reinforce what team members found irritating and appropriate. It wasn't perfect but I think worked better than a memo, e-learning course or classroom training session.

Beverly Scruggs

Thanks to everyone. Our team met this week and I shared your great ideas. You all really gave us new perspectives that we hadn't thought of, and that helped tremendously.

Bruce - your ideas are always so right-on and straightforward. But honestly, Storylion's camera idea was the best!

Cary - thanks for the Dim & Dash cartoon. I'd forgtotten about those.

Diana - I like the way your infographic idea can point out how many people would like to say something to the offenders.

So here's what we've decided to do. (1) We're going to shoot 3-4 short videos to demonstrate the most common offenses and how it affects your neighbors; we'll send these out as a series, maybe once a month. (2) We're going to create our own version of the Dim & Dash pictures (same idea, different format & names) we can use in various ways as reminders. (3) We have digital signage (monitors with rotating messages) throughout our building, so we're going to design some messages for that, maybe including our Dim & Dash versions. (4) I'm going to try my hand at producing an infographic of statistics as another form of awareness.

Thanks again to everyone for your very helpful contributions to this discussion.

Beverly Scruggs

Rachel, thanks for your comment. Personal accountability will be included in the messages. Our company's culture is based on employees being personally accountable for their own actions, so it's really part of everybody's job, not just HR's. We decided our approach would be more of an awareness of "maybe that is me sometimes being annoying and not always somebody else."

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