How to encourage good desk etiquette

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How to encourage good desk etiquette

Your desk is your haven when you’re at the office. It’s where you can work as you please without interference from anyone else. But while it may be your space, it’s mindful to remember that what you do at your desk can potentially impact those around you, especially if you work in an open plan office.  There is such a thing as desk etiquette, and it’s important that you make an effort to follow it. Here’s how.

1. No smelly foods

Rule number one of desk etiquette: be very mindful about what you eat at your desk. Nothing will irritate your colleagues more than you eating a very smelly meal at your desk. We understand that when midday rolls around it’s nice to have something to look forward to at lunch and, of course, you’re perfectly entitled to eat whatever you wish. But have a think about how others might feel when you’re boxing up last night’s leftovers. 

Fish, cabbage, eggs, fast food, excessive garlic and onions, spices and particularly smelly cheeses are foods you need to keep in your own kitchen, not in the office.

2. Tidy as you go

Keeping clutter at a minimum is essential to productivity. Tidy desk, tidy mind. A workstation that is tidy and well-organised can also boost your mood. So if you’re one to find clutter elsewhere in the office distracting, do your part for everyone else and keep your own desk tidy. A desk with your own personal drawers is best. It’s much easier to put something away once you’re finished with it or try not to have too many “bits” out at once.

3. Tidy at the end of the day

Take a little bit of time at the end of your working day to pack away any supplies that have made their way out of their drawers. It’ll only take you a few extra minutes and you’ll feel a sense of pride leaving behind a tidy desk and when you come in the next day you can get straight into work and not worry about finding the workspace underneath it.

4. Bring your own stationery

When you work in an office, stationery is the tool of your trade. Your necessities for getting tasks done. So rather than spending your valuable time searching store cupboards and drawers for pens and sticky notes, make sure your own desk is fully stocked up. Don’t go over the top – chances are you don’t need a protractor – pens, highlighters and paper clips are a good place to start.

And always have spares stored in your desk. It’s always good to be prepared incase a pencil breaks, a pen runs out of ink or a notebook becomes full.

5. Keep cutlery clean

We all like a brew at our desk to help keep productivity flowing, but your desk mates won’t appreciate a pile of used cups around your computer. Your office may have its own specific rules when it comes to dishes, but it’s good practice to clean up after yourself whenever you’re done with it. Your colleagues won’t be happy if they go for a coffee break but can’t find any mugs.

6. Be quiet and considerate

There’s nothing wrong with chatting with your colleagues, and if you work in an open plan office then it’s unavoidable. But keep in mind that loud conversations could prove distracting and annoying. Ultimate desk etiquette suggests that you should keep personal conversations away from your desk, whether you need to step out for a phone call or save catching up with your coworkers til lunch time. Work conversations are different; some may require you to be at your desk and work calls need to be taken there, but if the matter is private try to find a meeting room so you don’t disturb those around you.

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Lyndsay Carling
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