Open-Office Space Etiquette with Julie Wakefield the Founder of JW Etiquette

Setting the Ground Rule Every Person Should Follow

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Oh all of us have seen the open plan office space and we have all seen that it can begin to look and feel like a dormitory. Yikes! So I reached out to etiquette expert Julie Wakefield for some co-working tips. Julie holds a master’s degree in educational administration and is a certified protocol and etiquette consultant through the Protocol School of Washington.

According to Julie the premise of etiquette is showing respect for others. This includes being respectful to our peers. When working within an open-office concept, keep these 5 essential tips in mind:

1.     Keep the noise level to a minimum.

This includes silencing your cell phone and moving to a quite room or conference room for conversations. Use soft voice tones when talking from your desk.

2.     Keep your work area clean.

In an open office area, everyone can see your work area. Take the time to organize your work area and keep it clean. Purchase storage containers which look nice and make you feel inspired, create as much privacy as possible, and implement work systems which help you maintain productivity.


3.     Be aware of odors which affect the entire office.

This includes personal fragrances, candles or scented decorations. Some people have allergies, and you don’t want your fragrance to cause one of your peers to have watery eyes.


 Foods which are known to have strong, lingering odors are also something you should avoid in an open office environment. No one wants to smell the fish you had for lunch all afternoon.


4.     Create a silent signal where others know you cannot be disturbed.

This could be a simple “Do Not Disturb” sign or the use of headphones allowing others know to return to you later.


5.     Clean up after yourself in the community areas.

You’ve seen the signs in workplace kitchen which read, “Your mother doesn’t work here, so clean up after yourself.” This is a good reminder for all of us to be courteous and pick up after ourselves. If you mess up a dish, place it in the dishwasher or wash it and put it away. Place all trash in the trash can, remove old items (make sure they are your items) from the fridge, and wipe the microwave out when you mess it up.

When people enjoy going to work, they are more productive, they are happier, and they are more likely to stay with the company. Being courteous and keeping these simple tips in mind will go a long way to generating a cohesive team and reducing stress in the office.

Phone Etiquette

First impressions are important because they set the tone for a relationship, a meeting, or even a phone call. The minute you pick up the phone, you are creating an impression for how that call will go. Many companies consider the person who answers the phone the most important person in the company. That person is often given the title of Director of First Impressions.

Here’s Julie’s five tips to remember to make the best impression on the phone:

1.     Maintain a pleasant demeanor when answering the phone.

The tone of your voice and the words you say convey how you feel about your company and your job. Because of this, many people keep a mirror at their desk so they can check their facial expressions. It may be awkward at first. However, when you are smiling the caller can tell. Keeping a pleasant demeanor on the phone creates a positive first impression.

2.     Answer the phone within three rings.

By answering the phones quickly, you are letting the caller know he or she is important, and you are not too busy for their business. Often, a customer will hang up and call a competitor when the phones ring too many times. Assign a ring group within the company, so the phone will ring to more than one person. If the front office staff is away from their desks or on another call, you have a chance to talk to a potential customer before they hang up.


3.     Remember, names are important.

People like to know to whom they are speaking, so it’s important to identify yourself when you answer the phone. Also, make sure your write down the caller’s name when identified and use his or her name during the conversation. This is an important step in establishing a business relationship.


4.     Avoid eating or chewing gum while on the phone.

You may think your smacking or chewing can’t be heard, but it can. It is rude, and it will make the caller feel as though they are not as important as your food.


5.     Focus on the call and avoid multi-tasking.

As a call taker, you may have several responsibilities. However, when you are on the phone, that one task should be your only focus. It is your responsibility to make the caller feel important by taking care of his or her needs. Once the call is over, you may resume your other duties.

It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Pay attention to how your actions are being perceived by others. It’s up to everyone on a team to create a great customer experience.

One last great piece of advice from Julie  It’s not just etiquette. It’s how you’ll be remembered.

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