Working in a Cubicle – How to Ask Your Coworkers to Quiet Down
Conference calls taken on speakerphone, listening to music without headphones, and a posse of visitors, make people working in an office with an open floor plan want to permanently work from home.
The key to being able to ask your coworkers to move the conversation to a conference room is the same as giving any type of feedback –set expectations and ask for permission to speak candidly.
Working in an open-office environment is challenging. Here is some language to make it easier to ask your coworkers to pipe down:
Get the people who sit in your work area together to talk about your working environment.
That conversation could sound like this, “It’s often pretty loud in our work area. I was wondering if we could set some guidelines of how we’ll manage our workspace, so it works for everyone? What do you think of establishing some practices we all agree to follow? For example, when making or taking phone calls, everyone will either use the handset or a headset. We won’t take or make phone calls on speakerphone. We’ll always use earphones if listening to music or watching videos. If a conversation at someone’s desk lasts longer than five minutes, people will take the conversation to a conference room. And when these guidelines are broken, and they will because we’re human, it’s ok to say something. We could even have a system to let people know it’s getting loud and that a guideline is being broken. With everybody’s agreement, we could throw a nerf ball into the loud cube, put a note in front of the person, or simply walk over and ask the person to take the conversation elsewhere. I want our work environment to work for everyone and make it easy for us to speak up without being concerned that we’re going to hurt someone’s feelings or damage relationships. What do you think?”
You DON’T need to be a manager to do this. Take control of your working environment by asking for what you want. Initiating this conversation may feel odd and uncomfortable, but I assure you most of the people you sit with will be grateful you dared to start the conversation.
You can say anything to anyone at work when you have permission to do so. Suffering is optional. Make requests today and follow up when things get loud. You can do it!