Habits That Annoy Your Cubicle Mates

There are certain habits that one has at home that should not be brought into Cube Land.  We all have our habits and though we may disagree on what’s acceptable in our personal lives, the workplace is a different story as there are certain things that just do not belong in it at all.  There is always the problem with the exposed belly for example (or the butt cleavage!).  Then there are those things that I had thought were even more obvious but obviously they weren’t.

Smacking bubble gum

At one job in New York City I sat next to a woman who smacked her bubble gum all day long.  It drove me out of my mind – but I kindly asked her to stop and she kindly did.  Reading work-related forums I discovered that many office workers had the same problem with “smacker co-worker” but that the overall the smackers were not as receptive to their suggestions as my co-worker was.  Bubble gum smacking is without a doubt not acceptable in the workplace:

  • It is evidence of a lack of consideration for others
  • It distracts or annoys those around the smacker, causing tension in the workplace
  • It definitely will not impress anyone who’s on the other end of a nearby phone conversation
  • It is unprofessional because it is something more closely associated with a careless attitude, such as that of teenagers.  This does not fit well in adult settings, especially not in a work setting.

Talking over speaker phone

It doesn’t matter if it is for 30 seconds, it doesn’t matter what the reason is.  When we’re sharing an open or semi-open space with other people we need to consider their space as much as we hope they will consider ours.  The person sitting next to us might be in the middle of important work or maybe taking a minute to relax before starting on a major project or speaking on the phone themselves.

Having a conversation on speaker phone is inappropriate because:

  • It is inconsiderate of others’ space and says that the person having the conversation on speaker puts his/her needs above his/her co-workers’
  • It may cause others to start having conversations on speaker phone and then it will be chaos if everyone starts doing it
  • The person on the other end of the line might say something embarrassing or that requires discretion

Speaking loudly

This was a major issue in my first job, when I shared my desk with a loud yacker.  This particular specimen spent half her days on the phone talking about her newborn twins and laughing out loud as she leaned back on her chair.  I hoped that her chair would flip backwards and that somehow she’d break her tongue.

Why this is bad:

  • This too is inconsiderate
  • The loud “yakker” will become undesirable company; if they’re this loud in an office, can you only imagine when this person is in a restaurant or a bar?!  There goes their invitation to happy hour.
  • This will eventually bring disconcerting personal affairs into the workplace

Public performance of personal hygiene

These days there are people from all over the place living everywhere and cultural clashes occur.  Some things are ok in one place but highly offensive in others.  I am only familiar with Anglo-Saxon, Latin and other Western European cultures so here I can only speak for them, where the following habits are not acceptable in public areas of the workplace (please comment if you’d like to add or protest something):

  • Cleaning your teeth.  This should be done solely in the bathroom.  Sucking your teeth to clean them goes in this category too.
  • Manually cleaning your nasal passages (picking your nose).  This should never, under any circumstances be performed in front of others anywhere.  This is highly offensive and will outcast the worker doing this.  If you have to find 1 thing not to do, this is it.
  • Filing your nails.  Doing this at your desk will irritate co-workers, spread nail dust all over the place and make you look like you’ve got nothing to do.

Take care.

Popular search terms for this article:

name something a person wishes he could fit in his cubicle at work, name something a person wish he could fit in his cubicle at work, name something a person wishes they could fit in her cubicle, name something a person wishes they could fit in their cubicle at work, name something a person wishes they could fit into their cubicle, name something a person wishes he could fit into his cubicle, annoying cubicle habits, name something a man wishes he could fit in his cubicle at work, name something a person wishes they could fit in their cubicle, name something a person wishes he can fit in his cubicle at work

Freelance writer, translator and copyeditor currently living in Amsterdam. Former stressed-out marketing and public relations person in NYC. Likes languages but really doesn't like flowers. Contact through GreenRabbitTranslations.com.


  1. thenoseknows on the 14th May

    spraying perfume. or any other smelly substance. the woman across from me, there was just a *fog* of odor from her cubicle. i’d to gag my way through many workdays. …oddly, the same woman used to complain loud and long every time she walked past the smokers outside.

    • Ana on the 18th May

      “Perfume” I’ve found is rather subjective and I found out about this in the 8:30am downtown subway.

    • HonShi on the 6th June

      Perfume is fine. I’ve had co-workers that has strong, concentrated body odor and has a bout 2 cubicle radius. What more in the morning train when everyone had to sandwich each other, and someone just decided to breathe with their mouth.

  2. Kate on the 14th May

    Swearing! I don’t think some people – mainly men – realize how many 4-letter words they toss out in an average day. It’s one thing when you occasionally and deliberately choose a specific word for emphasis, but cussing like a sailor should be reserved for… well, sailors.

    • Ana on the 18th May

      I absolutely agree with you!

  3. Ryan on the 14th May

    The list is potentially endless, but my main one is people tapping there feet/hands loudly on office walls or equipment. It gets very annoying.

    • Mlew1446 on the 17th May

      In reply to Ryan….AMEN TO THAT! The gentleman that sits on the opposite cube wall from me constantly is tapping his desk with his hands, fingers or pens. It drives me crazy & have made comments to stop. It doesn’t help. Thank goodness for my iPod.

    • Ana on the 18th May

      I just don’t understand how people can be so inconsiderate. I want to wear a T-shirt that reads “FYI: there are other people in the world.”

    • Ana on the 18th May

      By the way, this is one more reason to share WorkAwesome with your co-workers. You never know when some advice from here will come in handy 😉

  4. sime on the 14th May

    Loud notification tones on mobile phones. It’s only exists to notify you of a call/message. Not the whole office.

    • Ana on the 18th May

      I asked a journalist friend for his opinion on this article and he said he didn’t think the content was useful. “Of course I’d never do any of those things,” he said. I told him he’s an unusual man.

  5. William on the 14th May

    One of my colleagues told me about walking into the IT room to find one of the two IT employees clipping his toenails right out in the open!

    Thankfully, nothing like this seems to happen anymore.

    • Ana on the 18th May

      The expression “like, O.M.G!” comes to mind here.

  6. Jean-Baptiste Jung on the 23rd May

    Well, if you’re annoyed by things such as bubble gum smacking or swearing…Never try to find a job in France.

  7. HonShi on the 6th June

    I find laughing out loud is very annoying. I have a co-worker who sits 3 rows away from me who often laughs at the stupidest joke. Her laughter; thunders through the studio.

    • Autumn on the 16th January

      @ least you can hear the joke I have a co-worker who listens to talk radio all day spends hours on end laughing out loud and saying “ohhh-wee!”

    • annoyed on the 23rd May

      i have one like this and it’s driving me CRAZY! listens to radio with earphones on and laughs out REALLY loud (sounds almost crazy) CONSTANTLY, each laugh is complemented with a bang on her desk with ehr fist. I am finding it so disrupting I don’t know what to do!!

  8. Justin on the 23rd June

    How about this one: whispering. I find it really inconsiderate and unprofessional when people have ‘private’ conversations while still in a public area.

  9. dalai lama on the 2nd August

    Are persistent coughs also a part of this? I know that coughs should ideally result from health ailments or a sore throat. But what happens when they become incessant. I know of some people that cough once every 5 mintues and it distracts you to the extent of not being able to do your work.

    If you have a cough that persistent, you should get it checked up. Or have water in your cubicle. But coughing or clearing your throat on a daily basis for weeks on does not do anyone any favours.

  10. mike on the 16th August

    I hide car air freshners all around my cube. I love the smell of the ocean mist one but my cube mates hate it. When they complain I just add more little air freshner trees.

    One person around here has decorated his entire cube in those little carboard sleeves that hold Starbucks coffee, he must have a few thousand now and they completely cover every inch of his cube.

  11. devans00 on the 25th December

    Sadly, the people who these kind of articles are written for don’t think the examples apply to them.

    Especially gum smackers. For some reason, they think no one can hear snap, snap, snap all day long. Even though the fact you are asking them to knock it off is proof you can hear them.

  12. Erin on the 25th January

    For me, people stopping at the entrance of the cubicle and stare at you. Seriously.

    Or since I’m by the printer, they would “Check the back of the printer”, lean in my cubicle and look at me. I have made awkward eye contact with a few people (including the staring people who stop and stare at me) quite a bit….

    I tried saying hello, but they still stare…..only 3 people who do this, but still, weird. I don’t look into other people’s cubicles….:p

  13. Fake Name on the 28th September

    Clearing sinuses CONSTANTLY. It’s sounds like snorting and it is EXTREMELY loud!!

Add a Comment