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Taking that Personal Call at Work

By Jennifer Pollock

Oh, the joys of the cubicle farm. Although those carpet-walls may provide the façade of privacy, the reality is that to work in a cube office is essentially to work in a room full of other people. The theory is that, besides maximizing the sardine effect, the open office will bolster communication and collaboration among the worker bees.

Right. All of that is fine, except for when your neighbor has the black lung, listens to soft rock at a not-so-soft volume, or is a serial personal call taker. The latter, in my opinion, is the greatest offense, because not only do I not need to hear about furniture shopping plans and the calorie count of my colleague’s lunch, but this behavior opens up private information (and the fact that no work is getting done), to, uh, about forty people. Not so great for professionalism or for avoiding water cooler gossip. And don’t forget that this behavior can even lead to an immortalizing shout out on Overheard in the Office.

While a personal call here and there at work is acceptable and necessary, definitely steer clear of things like telling your best friend the details of last night’s debauchery. Although this seems like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many people think that their quiet whisperings go unheard by the cube masses. And, to boot, your call is probably being recorded.

Let’s face it—most people are bored at work. Any distraction from Excel will probably pull them in. So, personal calls in moderation and in guarded tones are the safest bet. And for conversations that require you to be candid, do yourself a favor and step outside the office for a minute to call them back on your cell. That is, until you can wrangle your own office.

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