The open plan office needs a few guidelines to keep everyone – introverts and extroverts alike – happy. If you’re already in an open plan workspace or if you are about to be, there are office protocol that can really help keep the peace. These rules, along with some key design considerations such as creating a palette of place allowing employees to choose the right space at the right time, can be a key tool to making an open plan office work!

Here are the top 10 rules for the open plan office:

1. Keep your voice level moderate

This may be harder for some than others but the key is to know where your natural voice level falls and make adjustments. There’s nothing more distracting and downright frustrating than extra loud in-person or phone conversations. Technology, like sound masking, can help to some degree, but if you are broadcasting your conversation loudly be advised, everyone will hear it.

2. Don’t hold meetings in your workspace

Your desk is only appropriate for a two-person meeting if you can quietly discuss something for 5 min or less. If you are collaborating with more than 2 people be respectful of your neighbors and schedule the meeting in an appropriate setting.

3. Have lengthy impromptu conversations away from desks or hallways

Catching up on weekend gossip? Move it out of your workspace and into a social setting. Most people still spend the majority of their time on work that requires concentration. Overhearing what you’re saying will disrupt them.

4. Don’t talk or yell past your immediate neighbor

Get up, stretch your legs, burn some calories and go over to talk to them. Or try IM. Or the phone.

5. Don’t use speaker phones

Ever. Even to dial.

6. Manage ringers and notifications

Best practice…walk into the office and put your phone on vibrate. If you absolutely need to have your phone on, turn down the volume and most of all limit the number of rings. And when you walk away from your desk – take the phone with you!

7. Look before you interrupt

If someone’s visibly occupied – they have headphones on or they are talking to themselves – and your question can wait, return later or send a message they can reply to at a better time.

8. Don’t create unnecessary noise or smells

Pencil tappers this means you. Snackers and gum crackers you. Absolutely no music unless through headphones. Fish and popcorn can be friendship killers. Just be mindful of how your habits effect those around you.

9. Respect others’ concerns

If someone complains (in a very polite way) about the noise you’re making, realize that they most likely aren’t doing it to be obnoxious. Rather, they probably have alot to get done, are stressed and can’t concentrate. And that being said, if you need super duper quiet to focus, maybe it’s best that you find a quiet space where you can be guaranteed solitude.

10. Respect others’ privacy

Sometimes you’re going to hear business or personal information not intended for your ears. Just keep it to yourself.

It really is that easy!

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