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Has Your Office Gone to the Dogs? Mind your Open Office Manners!

by Mary Isner / May 31, 2018

It’s time for a few more friendly reminders from Miss Open Office Manners. In this installment, I discuss dogs in the open office, dressing for the open office, and open office wellness rooms. Enjoy.

Dogs in the Open Office

Dear Miss Open Office Manners: I am a puppy raiser for a service dog organization. I am fortunate enough to be able to take my dog into the office with me. Actually, my office allows all employees to bring in their dogs. When we had enclosed offices, the dogs would greet in the hallways, but would typically stay in their owner’s office most of the day. Now that we have an open office, the dogs tend to roam all over the place and interact a lot more. This is causing a bit of doggie chaos, not to mention you can't leave your lunch on your desk! My coworkers without dogs have been complaining about barking, accidents, etc., and it is becoming a real source of tension between the dog people and the non-dog people in my office. Help!

-- Has My Office Gone to the Dogs?

Dear Gone to the Dogs: I think the first thing you should do is call a meeting together. During the meeting, allow the non-dog owners to air their grievances. The dog owners should take their concerns seriously and make any appropriate changes necessary. During the meeting, you might want to develop some ground rules. For example, maybe there should be a limit on the number of dogs at any one time, or designated dog-free days. Dogs are becoming more common in the workplace and there is no reason that dogs can’t work alongside their owners and their owner’s coworkers. With a little bit of communication, everyone can get on the same page. In the meantime, check out my coworker’s fun blog on dogs in the home office.

Dealing with the Open Office Runway

Dear Miss Open Office Manners: Have you noticed that people tend to dress fancier in the open office due to the higher visibility that such an environment offers? It is definitely happening in my office. Sometimes I feel like I am at New York Fashion Week. Is there anything to do to keep this under control?

-- Trying to Ban the Open Office Fashion Show

Dear Fashion Show Banner: It’s interesting because I just read a recent study that concluded that employees may subconsciously behave and dress differently after a move to an open plan office environment. First you should ask yourself why are you trying to prevent this and how bad is it really? There is a difference between someone wearing an Armani suit and someone wearing Lady Gaga’s bubble dress. If it is more like the latter, perhaps your office needs to establish a dress code, but if it is more like the former, I would just let it go. There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to look nice at work. Some people may even argue it improves your work product because you feel better about yourself.

Dealing with Wellness Room Interlopers

Dear Miss Open Office Manners: My open office has two “wellness rooms,” which are places you can go if you need some time away from your desk to de-stress, stretch, take a sanity break, deal with a headache, etc. The other day, I was starting to get a migraine from the lights and I wanted to duck into one of our wellness rooms for a little break. I was surprised to see that both rooms were occupied by people making personal phone calls. When I mentioned this to my coworker, she said that she noticed the same thing. People are using those rooms to make phone calls or have private conversations with other coworkers, not for wellness. What gives and what can I do?

-- Trying to Police The Wellness Room

Dear Wellness Room Police: This is very frustrating. I am starting to get a headache even thinking about it. I think the first order of business is a company-wide friendly reminder email asking people to refrain from using the wellness rooms for anything other than their actual purpose. I would also recommend posting a sign on the outside of the door stating that the wellness rooms are to be used only for the purposes of well, wellness! And make sure there is clear and regular communication about what is considered appropriate use of the wellness rooms. People who want to use the phone should be directed to phone booths and people who want to meet should be directed to meeting or conference rooms. Hopefully, that does the trick.

I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Feel free to let me know your open office etiquette pet peeves in the comments below. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and polite open office work environment! Never forget to mind your manners!

Tags: Open Office Design

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Mary Isner

Mary Isner

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.