So I work in an "open space"... And I'm surrounded by many people. But most importantly, by some people that unfortunately have no respect for others, and that are incapable of grasping the notion that a "work" open space is not the same as a "leisure" open space.
In other words, people around me act as if they are on some coffee shop, some lounge or other big room with lots of people, and "happen" to be doing some work between personal conversations, good laughs, loud phone calls and facebooking.
What we'd expect is something completely different. That people would act with RESPECT and CONSIDERATION for others, placing collective comfort above their own personal "needs".
I'd expect people to follow some simple rules:
1 - mute or silence the mobile phone.
Difficulty? This is quite simple. Many phones have dedicated keys or shortcuts to do it in under a second.
Positive Impact: A phone ringing once is not annoying. Ringing 5 times a day, is bearable... 50 phones ringing 5 times a day is freaking driving me insane!
Negative impact: If you have a phone on your desk, it vibrating, or even just it lighting up with a call is enough to see it's "ringing". No need for actual ringing sound. And if you're gone form your desk, be that for a minute or for lunch, it won't bother anyone.
If it does ring, ANSWER it or at least MUTE it immediately.
You're ringtone may be the simplest, or the funniest, or the hippest, or the coolest, but NOT IN THE WORK PLACE. In there it's just annoying.
2 - When speaking to someone next to you, use low tone AND volume. Only with both you can avoid being overheard be people in the other end of the room. TIP: Regard any conversation as "confidential", and consider that no one should be able to listen to it. Private conversations should be the most discrete.
3 - Do NOT speak to someone more that ONE desk away from you. The other person will respond and the whole floor will hear the conversation, which is unnecessary, disrupting, and only contributes to make other people speak louder, just to be heard by their next desk neighbor. Private conversations should be completely left out of this, or there will be always someone that has something to comment or share on the subject.
4 - Do not start greeting and talking to someone as you enter the floor. Wait 'till you're close.
5 - Do not speak to the crowd. Even if it's work related and you're talking to your team. Keep collective communication to meeting rooms, e-mails and paper.
6 - Phone calls: keep them civil, low tone, and short. If you need to up the discussion, FIND A ROOM, or at least a far corner where you can bother others the least possible. And do keep private phone calls out of the open space.
7 - Music. Very important aspect.
a) PLAY IT FOR YOURSELF, via headphone, preferably ear bud plugins, and keep a volume that can't be heard by others.
b) KEEP IT FOR YOURSELF, and do not share, show, and most importantly:
c) DO NOT EVER SINGALONG
d) when speaking to others, remove the headphones and PAUSE the music, or you'll be speaking louder because of it.
8 - Keep your desk tidy. Just because. Visually, it's not just your desk, it represents the whole space, the team, the department, the company.
9 - Within open work spaces, there will be designated aisles or walking routes to use. Use them and don’t be tempted to take short cuts across other people’s work spaces. Passing by is disrupting. Tripping over their chair, table, bag, power cable, etc... is extremely annoying and disrespectful. EVEN if you apologize.
10 - Never use anything which might cause disruption to others, e.g. a speaker phone, radio or Tv. Unless you’ve got express permission from fellow work colleagues that this is acceptable, and for a good EXCEPTIONAL reason (news crisis, important sports match, etc)
11 - Smells.
a) do not put on perfume or deodorant in the open work space. Seriously. Do NOT.
b) do not eat "warm" food in the open space. Your soup may be great, but maybe, just maybe, you'll be bothering at least ONE person that doesn't like the smell of it.
c) do not eat out of crackling bags. Chips are great. They don't smell, and as long as you chew with your mouth closed, they're not loud. But the crackling bag is a no no.
12 - Humor. A Good joke is a nice ice breaker, a good escape to release tension, pressure and reduce stress. As long as it does not turn into a loud discussion, fight, or stand-up comedy act. A good joke is also short, and not very frequent.
But no... in here people have to:
Speak loudly. Like louder is righter.
Show off their new sexy ring tone. Or geeky text messaging sound.
Ignore a phone ringing loudly in front of them, while they finish a conversation to someone 2 lanes away, or finish typing on facebook.
Have group conversations about underwear and personal hygiene that the whole freaking floor can't help but hearing.
Take 15 minutess to make verbal lunch arrangements with people from all corners of the floor.
Actually put on deodorant/perfume and stare at mirrors.
Singalong the cheesiest music you can think of, and make funny remarks about it, because it's funny to annoy and disturb others with... well, CRAP.
Really people... have some respect!