For many years I have been using a home office. As my business has changed and expanded I needed to change direction and move to an office away from home. This was a culture shock to me. I went from having my own space to sharing the office with two other people. I am sure I am not the only one who is in this same situation. Some things I am learning may be of help to you.

Even if there aren’t four walls and a door marking the area, you need to respect everyone else’s work space. Walk around the partition to see a neighbor, instead of popping your head over the top. And as you walk down the passageways, don’t peek into each workstation. Be sure and grant your neighbors private time. Stagger lunch breaks to provide everyone a few minutes alone at their desks, and make sure you clean your desk area after lunch. If at all possible eat in the kitchen area, and avoid foods with strong odors. No one wants to look at your left over lunch. A really hard one for me is to not chime in to conversations I overhear.Whether it’s a work question you can answer or a private conversation you’d rather not hear, ignore comments that aren’t directed at you.

Employees should wear  properly pressed clothes during office hour. Check to make sure your shirt is not wrinkled. Some companies do not have strict uniform policy, but instead observe a casual business dress code to give enough freedom and comfort to their employees while in the workplace. Even then, employees are still expected to present a respectable and professional image. However, do keep in mind that not all casual attire fits in the office setting. Remember you are representing your company or your employer, you do not know who will be showing up to visit your office mates. No more comfy sweats for me. I really had to reassess what I wore to work.

Simply put remember to say, excuse me, please, thank you and I’m sorry. These are simple phrases that we learned from our parents and somehow may have forgotten as we became older. When you cough or sneeze remember, to cover your mouth and say excuse me.

Always say “please” when asking someone a favor. Without this, you will sound like you are demanding or giving command. When people do things for you, whether it is a superior or a subordinate, you should always say, “Thank you.” This will show your co-workers that you appreciate them and what they do for you and for the company.

Saying “I’m sorry” is such a powerful way of letting others know that you didn’t mean what just happened, thus making the situation less disturbing or less disappointing. Saying “I’m sorry” is just an initial step because it should be followed with what you should do to make it up.

I do feel more productive having regular office hours, and enjoy being able to have a face to face conversation with people throughout the day. I just need to remember that we each like our personal space and privacy.

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on April 29th, 2014.