Cubicles: The Art of Working With Distractions

By Melissa Nykorchuk

office cubicleWorking in an office today is nothing like it used to be. Forget four walls and a door that you can close. Having an office in today’s thrifty business world can mean nothing more than three short cubicle walls with no privacy and the ability to hear everything within a twenty-foot radius. Learning how to get along, even with the woman who has decorated her cubicle in pink flamingos, becomes necessary in order to keep the peace and ensure that you can get your work done.

So, what happens if you are sitting next to a person who continually uses the speaker phone on high? Before you jump over the cubicle wall out of frustration, take into consideration that this pest may not know that his phone is so high. Try telling him that you are distracted by his loud use of the speaker phone and could he please keep it down. If he ignores your request, consider this as a sign you have a pest on your hands and look for an open cubicle farther away.

The speaker phone is distracting, but what about the thirty or so personal phone calls he receives on his cell phone? Even when you try to ignore his cell phone that loudly screeches the chorus of “Ain’t too proud to beg” every time it goes off, you can’t get any work done. Does he even know he is such a pest?

You’ve put on your headphones to deal with the noises. You are hard at work at your keyboard, finally able to start meeting your quota for the day. You feel a tap on your shoulder. Here is Mr. Loudness disturbing you yet again because he can’t seem to figure out how to do his job, no matter how many times he’s been taught. You again explain that yes, C comes after B, and put your headphones back on to indicate that you need to get back to work.

Back in the groove, you begin to notice an odd odor. The smell becomes stronger and stronger until you can no longer ignore it. Of course the odor is coming from the pest’s cubicle and you look over to see him mixing a glass of Metamucil. You decide that it’s time to invest in some high quality air freshener and that this job may no longer be worth the pay.

Does this person actually know how annoying they are? Loud noises, odd odors, and constant questions are not proper office etiquette. He told you that the people in his other office were conservatives and didn’t understand him. Even though you want to scream “it wasn’t your politics, it was you,” you nod and put back on your headphones. He just isn’t worth it.


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