Like anything else, open workspaces have their own unique set of pluses and minuses. On the one hand, you might look forward to chatting with the colleague who sits next to you each day. On the other, you might dread the co-worker who insists on eating tuna fish at their desk. And of course, there’s always that one person who talks too loudly.

For all their quirks, open workspaces are becoming more and more attractive to companies looking to cut costs and promote collaboration. The trend towards less square footage per employee has been around for quite a while. In 2018, the national average was 194 square feet per employee, an 8.3 percent decrease in personal space from 2009.

Open workspaces mean one thing—we need to learn how to work alongside each other in an open environment. This calls for a new kind of etiquette, particularly when it comes to functions and tasks that can affect the co-workers who sit near you, such as videoconferencing.



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Like open workspaces, video calls are becoming more common as they enable remote workers and colleagues in global companies to collaborate easily in real-time. In fact, companies are using solutions like MiCloud Connect to create virtual workspaces that include video sharing in addition to a host of other collaboration tools.

As employees collaborate in real-time via video, however, there are a few things employees in open workspaces need to consider. These videoconferencing etiquette tips will keep your co-workers happy whether they’re in the open office or elsewhere across the globe.



Huddle up and close the door


Many open workspaces have designated areas that do afford some privacy. The best way to handle a video call is to take advantage of a huddle room and close the door. Your co-workers will thank you for it, and it will enable you to stay more focused on the call with fewer distractions.


Put on your best headset


If a private space is not available, then it’s time to put on your headset. Be sure to have a quality piece of equipment that includes a microphone so you don’t need to shout to be heard. High-quality equipment will also ensure you don’t have to constantly repeat yourself, which your neighbors will appreciate.


The right angle


When it comes to videoconferencing in an open workspace, the camera angle is everything. How do you determine what’s your good side in an open workspace? Well, this is the time for a close-up. Make sure the camera is focused on your face and eliminates as much of your surroundings as possible. This eliminates any distractions that may be happening in the background, which will keep co-workers on the call focused.


Turn it down


It’s easy to get invested in a call and forget how loud you seem to those around you. Remind yourself to keep it down while you’re talking, unless you want everyone around you to chime in.


Give fair warning


One of the easiest ways to reach videoconference star status is to let your coworkers know you have one scheduled. A heads up may be all it takes to let your open space friends know you care and share their concern for privacy and distractions.


Of course, this doesn’t give you carte blanche to ignore the previous tips provided, but this small gesture can go a long way in forgiving the distraction a video call may produce. It also affords your colleagues the opportunity to sync up their break time or lunch with your call or seek out another area to get work done.


It's a two-way street


You won’t always be the one in the hot seat—sometimes you’ll be a spectator. Etiquette works both ways, so if you see someone on a video call, it’s not the time to ask them where they want to go for lunch or if they had a chance to read the progress report you sent them last night. When the headset is on, consider the door to conversation closed.


Keep it quiet


You may not be able to keep your open workspace completely silent but keeping your video calls as quiet as you can will earn you the respect of your co-workers. That brings us to our final tip: Remember to mute that extra line whenever you dial in to a conference using both your computer and your phone – and avoid creating that terrible shrieking noise.


Extra tips for the star performer


For the A-list videoconference stars who want to take their etiquette to an even higher level, here are some additional tips to keep in mind for any video call, regardless of your office setting:


  • Don’t multitask: Everyone can see you, so please refrain from checking email or, worse yet, sneaking away for a moment to tend to another matter.

  • Dress the part: While it may be tempting to stay in your pajamas if you’re working from home, keeping it professional helps everyone stay on target. Present yourself as you would in a face-to-face meeting if you want the respect and attention of the other participants.

  • Don’t go in hungry: Even a lunchtime videocall is not the time to eat. Plan ahead so you’re not spilling food, chewing or wiping your mouth while others are trying to have a meaningful discussion.

  • Be on time: A video conference should be treated as an in-person meeting. The virtual atmosphere doesn’t excuse lateness. It’s as much as an inconvenience to others as leaving them stranded alone outside an IRL conference room. And if you’re unavoidably detained, send someone a chat message to let them know when you’ll arrive, or if you need to reschedule.


Amid the cacophony of the open workspace, these tips will help you be a more considerate neighbor.

 


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