The open-space office is a fabulous workspace. It’s the heart of your company: the place where there is the most life, the most rivalry and the most is shared with colleagues... the positives and of course those little annoyances that, day after day, will make you appreciate time spent alone. So in order for this shared existence to remain a pleasant experience for all, here is a summary of behaviour to be avoided in an open-space office.

1-Shouting on the telephone

It may seem harmless at first, but I assure you that having a colleague who shouts on the phone in an open-space office is exhausting for all concerned. And although the person you’re speaking to may not be able to hear you on the other end of the phone, never forget that your colleagues may not be able to hear themselves think.

2-Eating an apple/biscuits/a banana

Both the most natural sound in the world, and the most stressful when you’re trying to concentrate. Be they biscuits, bananas, apples or boiled sweets, if you have to eat something, using the break rooms provided by your employer will make your colleagues happy.

3-Whistling in an open-space office

It may seem strange, but it happens. A happy employee, you say? Yes, it’s nice for an employer to know that their employees are content. Having said that, they shouldn’t feel like they are at home, and certainly not as though they’re taking a shower.

4-Pacing up and down when on the phone

Can’t stay still when on the phone? No problem. But avoid doing 8 laps of each desk as you talk in an open-space office. You could just as easily book a meeting room and circle to your heart’s content while you talk, because watching you will make your colleagues dizzy.

5-Joining in with conversations that don’t concern you

A classic. The thing about the open-space office is that you’re at the heart of the action, and you hear everyone’s conversations. That doesn’t mean you have to join in every time. You’re not expected to offer your opinion on everything, and above all, you can’t do it at the same time as all your work.

6-Invading other people’s space with your mess

Your personal organisational skills are your own business, as well as that of your employer. But they shouldn’t become that of your office colleagues. Everyone has their own space, so don’t spread your things onto the next desk: photos, piles of folders, keys, screen; in short, manage your own space or request a bigger desk!

Manage your own space or request a bigger desk!

7-Eating strong-smelling food in the office

There’s nothing worse than an office polluted by the smell of octopus at 2 p.m. For pity’s sake, save reheated food for the kitchen/cafeteria/break room, because working in a place that smells like a fishmonger’s is not at all exotic, and the worst smells tend to linger for the longest!

8-Making personal phone calls

Yes, everyone can hear you! And so everyone is privy to your problematic love life, holiday bookings, comments about your friends’ lives, childcare issues, and so on and so forth. What is stressful in this situation is as much the fact that nobody cares about your conversation as the fact that all your colleagues can clearly see that you’re not working, while they are. Find somewhere private to make personal calls, it’s better for everyone.

9-Making other people’s desks tremble

Certain stressed-out colleagues are capable of triggering veritable earthquakes without realising they’re doing it. And when it’s you who sits next to them, the seismic activity can even make your computer screen tremble, making your life impossible. If you can’t help jittering, do your colleagues a favour: swap your coffee for a herbal infusion!

10-Drowning yourself in scent or not wearing any at all

Smells in an open-space office are like noises: they can make your shared working experience pure hell. A word to all perfume lovers: tastes are personal, but excess is generally unanimous. If you’re tempted to overdo the eau de toilette in the morning, kill two birds with one stone: keep some for that colleague who never wears any. Because good or bad, a smell that is too strong will ruin your day.

In conclusion, it’s all a question of the boundaries between shared space and private space, and moderating your behaviour. Working in an open-space office is great when everyone respects their neighbours and adopts a positive attitude towards them. It’s common sense. And if, as happens to all of us, you end up obsessing about those repeated actions that make your life a misery, like your neighbour who types too loudly or uses a stamp 50 times in a row, keep calm and take a break – five minutes standing on a noisy street will make you appreciate returning to the calm of the office!

Over to you: What behaviour drives you mad in open-space offices?