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The Four Ps of Cubicle Etiquette

The other day a friend was sharing a story with me about an issue she was having with a co-worker’s cubicle “manners.” My friend is highly sensitive to perfume and aerosols, and her co-worker, who works in the cubicle next to her, is very cautious about germs. The co-worker keeps a can of Lysol in her desk, and after each visitor leaves her cubicle she douses the area in her cubicle with the fragrant anti-bacterial spray.

Cubicle Etiquette in the workplace

The dilemma, as you can tell, is that the opposing fumes seep over the top of the cubicle wall, exposing my friend to the odor—causing her discomfort.

So, what is the etiquette in this situation? Use scent-free products. Emily Post said it best when she said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.”

As we are often in situations where we have to work in close quarters, I thought it would be a good idea to share some more “cubicle etiquette” tips.

Here are the four “Ps” of cubicle etiquette.


  • Treat coworkers’ cubicles like offices. Knock lightly before entering.

  • If the person you need to speak with is on the phone, come back – do not loiter near his or her space.

  • Never answer a question you overhear from your cube to someone else’s

  • Avoid talking over the top of the cubicles.


  • Resist reading a fellow coworker’s computer screen when visiting her cubicle

  • Make sure your own screensaver is silent

  • Cultivate light, fluid keyboarding skills, to avoid making distracting sounds (tap, tap, tap…can get quite annoying)

  • Ensure that your computer volume is set to a low level


  • Keep personal calls to a minimum and be discrete

  • Speak quietly and respect that others around you are working

  • Forward your phone to voicemail while away from your desk and turn off the ringer. This includes your cell phone.

  • Avoid using the speakerphone feature; if you have to use it, keep the volume low.


  • If you need to hold a meeting, do so in a separate meeting or office room, not in a cubicle

  • Unless given permission, don’t touch anything on a coworker’s desk

  • Avoid wearing perfume and aftershave and eating strong smelling foods in your cubicle

  • Manage your image; keep your space organized and work-oriented. Ensure that it reflects a high level of professionalism.

Do you have an example of poor cubicle etiquette that you’ve experienced in the workplace? Love for you to share it with us!

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