Office cubicles give the perception of complete seclusion and privacy. But, don’t let the tall, solid panels trick you. You’re in very close proximity to your cubicle neighbors and other coworkers, so although it may seem that you’re completely isolated from others, they can still hear and smell everything coming from your private workspace very clearly. Little things that you do throughout the day such as the perfume you wear, snacks you bring in to work, and phone conversations you have can and will effect and distract other employees nearby. Keep this in mind next time you go to order Pad Sa Tor for lunch from the Thai restaurant down the street.

If everyone in the office is aware of basic office cubicle etiquette, each employee can work in a distraction-free, productive environment, not to mention the office gossip and animosity that can be limited or avoided altogether. With that being said, here are a few office etiquette do’s and don’ts to keep in mind throughout your work day.

Do

bring headphones to work to listen to music and help block out any background noise that may distract you. It doesn’t matter how quiet or respectful your coworkers are, there will be background noise in any office environment. Phones ringing, hushed conversations, and fingernails tapping on keyboards are all expected components in every workplace. Silence these anticipated distractions with your favorite workday playlist.

Don’t

play your music out loud or have the volume on your headphones turned up so high that others sitting near you can hear your music as well. It all boils down to acknowledging your shared workspace and being respectful of your coworkers. They are not interested in your music choice for the day; that should be for your ears only. So, plug in your headphones and turn the volume down.

Do

be respectful of everyone else in the office if you’re required to regularly converse with others in person or over the phone. You do not need to yell into the phone! The most obvious office etiquette rule is to be considerate when having conversations and remember that other people in the office are most likely attempting to have conversations as well.

Don’t

carryout phone conversations on speakerphone or talk as if you are the only person in the room. Other employees in the office may be trying to listen to a customer on the other end of their line too. You’re not the only person working!

Do

supply your own food and snacks. If everyone in the office shares items such as coffee or large boxes of chip or snack assortments, take your turn in restocking these items. Always ask before taking something out of the kitchen or breakroom that you didn’t supply yourself. If a coworker is kind enough to bring in food for everyone, don’t make them clean it up and always clean up after yourself when utilizing a shared space such as a cafeteria, lounge, or breakroom.

Don’t

assume the food in the office kitchen is for everyone. Like I said, always ask before taking an item you didn’t bring in yourself. Employees shouldn’t feel the need to write their name on every container in the fridge. If you didn’t bring it yourself, don’t touch it without asking first.

Do

give your cubicle a personal touch and make it a comfortable place for you to work. Don’t hesitate to decorate and personalize your workspace. Make your cubicle a less boring place to work.

Don’t

let your personal decorations, supplies, items, etc. affect your cubicle neighbors. Keep your space tidy and don’t allow your wall decor or storage solutions overflow into the isleway or your neighbor’s space. Also, be aware of smells. You might love the smell of your candle or air freshener, however, the scent might make others nearby slightly nauseous.

Do

work as a team. Everyone is more productive when sharing ideas and collaborating. Although you may be separated by cubicle walls, don’t let this limit your communication with your coworkers. But, remember to be considerate of others when having conversations or move to another space in the office, such as a conference room or a shared space or group work area.

Don’t

come to work if you’re sick. With everyone sitting in such close proximity, you will most likely spread your illness very quickly around the office. If you feel that you absolutely must get work done that day to catch up or avoid falling behind, get some work done at home. No one wants you coughing and sneezing all over their workspace.

Do

silence your cell phone. It’s okay to keep your phone nearby in case of emergencies, however, your constant text message tone and social media notifications can distract and annoy other employees sitting nearby attempting to focus on their work.

Don’t

eat strong-smelling, slurping, or crunchy foods at your desk. Eat in the breakroom or cafeteria, if possible. However, some offices might not have a large kitchen or a designated place to eat at all or perhaps you have lots of work to catch up on during lunch; that’s fine, but don’t let your appetite distract or bother other employees. If you must eat at your desk, choose something that won’t alert the entire office of exactly what you chose to eat that day. And please, chew with your mouth closed! Your coworkers do not want to hear you chomping away on your sandwich.

Do

give everyone involved or required to participate in a meeting plenty of advance notice when scheduling to ensure that each individual can be there on time without conflicting with their schedules. While you might think that all employees can simply drop everything with the snap of your fingers, they have work to get done as well, deadlines to meet, and their own meetings with other coworkers, team members, and customers. Acknowledge the fact that they are setting aside time out of their day to give you their undivided attention and participation.

Don’t

attempt to multitask during meetings. Give your undivided attention to help the meeting run smoothly, efficiently, and in a timely manner. Also, always hold meetings in a designated conference room or group meeting area, not in someone’s cubicle, to avoid distracting other employees not involved in the group meeting.

Remember, your coworkers may not be able to see you through their cubicle walls, but you’re all sitting within a relatively close proximity, they can still hear and smell anything and everything coming from your workstation. The most important office etiquette rule is to always be respectful. If you think something might distract your cubicle neighbors, don’t do it; it’s that simple. Acknowledge your shared workspace to ensure each employees’ productivity, well-being, and satisfaction.