There’s a colleague who loves to hoard water bottles. No, he’s not a quirky collector of water vessels. He just forgets to stow or throw away his bottles. Now, this won’t be an issue if he had a cubicle to his name. But then in this age of open offices, who has one? The bottles tip and fall into shared spaces. Working in a newspaper office, one is used to a certain amount of mess. There are colleagues who stack their tables with old papers, press releases stay on the desk for years and then there are those who just plonk their bags on the tables – the contents spilling over.
Space in an open office is at a premium. Then, again there’s no clear demarcation of workspace per person creating a conundrum of space usage. Corporate etiquette expert and trainer Promod Parkar says that open offices are the need of the hour. “In the dynamic brain based economy of the global context today, every employee is fairly multitasked. This makes working space even more critical,” he mentions. Parkar has noticed that in India, our culture is fairly louder than the rest of Asia and far more than the West, and this adds to the challenge of open workspaces. “Every employee needs to be high on empathy and patience to develop good interpersonal relationships at work,” he adds. In short, to optimise limited space one has to cultivate empathy.
NEAT AND CLEAN
There’s no gold standard to personal space in an open office. But Parkar says that holding back a distance of three feet is a safe zone. If you are comfortable with your colleagues, a little closer won’t hurt. But encroachment at the workplace is not only viewed unfavourably but can be a deterrent to career growth, as a 2013 Careerbuilder survey proved. According to the survey, 28% of the employers say that they are less likely to promote someone who has a messy or disorganised desk, while 36% of employees confessed to holding on to papers dating back to a year. Commenting on the findings, Rosemary Haefner, HR pro with the company said: “While chaos on the desk space can indicate a busy workload, it can also imply lack of organisation.”
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