Five ways to be a nicer coworker

With the growing popularity of coworking and open work environments, people are more likely to spend a significant portion of their day sitting next to someone else. Perhaps someone they may not even know. In order to maintain a stress free work environment, you and your coworkers owe it to each other to be courteous and respectful. So here are five tips for being a good “office neighbour”.

  • No personal grooming at the desk. A recent survey showed that people find nail grooming in the office to be offensive. They also included flossing and applying deodorant as things that bother them the most. If you would do it in the bathroom at home, then you should not be doing it in the office.
  • Talk on the phone as if the person was sitting next to you. In addition to annoying everyone around them, loud talkers may also be inadvertently sharing private or confidential information. Especially if they are using their phone’s hands free speaker. Trust that no one wants to hear your conversation. Speaking at a normal volume will make you easily heard to the person on the other end. And if the room is too noisy, instead of speaking louder to compensate, step out or ask if you can call them back.
  • Dress for public viewing. Showing too much skin can be offensive to some, and negatively impact people’s perception of you. Keep in mind that everyone is a potential customer. So while you don’t always need to dress in business attire, at least make sure you’re also not dressing for the beach.
  • Avoid eating at your desk. While a cookie and a coffee, or some fruit and water is totally fine, turning your desk into a four course buffet is not wise. If you have to eat at your desk, try to bring foods that don’t have strong smells like tuna or strong spices. Most importantly, try to eat like you’re on a date. There’s nothing worse that trying to work alongside someone who’s attacking their lunch.
  • Hold meetings in a meeting room. Having a colleague come over to your desk to look over your work is one thing. But having a group meeting at your desk can be disruptive to everyone else. Using a meeting room is not only more thoughtful, it also allows you and your team to be more focused without distractions.

Marc Gordon is a recognized marketing expert. He regularly appears on TV and radio. His articles appear in over 200 publications worldwide. Visit or his online show at for more business tips.