Shared desking etiquette: 5 Tips for sharing a desk

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What are appropriate manners when sharing a desk? This article explores the important norms to establish to get along with your co-workers in a shared desk environment.

The importance of shared desking etiquette

If you are sharing a desk with a colleague, it is important to take their needs into account as well as your own. You can quickly create resentment and a bad reputation within the office if you are not respectful that someone else also uses your desk. Just as you would not want to share with someone who acted as if the shared desk was a personal one, make sure that you are not that person to others.

Tip 1: Clear your desk at night

One of the most important tips if you are sharing a desk with a colleague is to make sure that you clear your desk at night. There is nothing worse than coming into the office and the first thing that you discover is that your colleague has left all their things out on your shared desk. Having to spend the first 10 minutes of your day clearing away someone else’s junk is not fun. Thus, before leaving work, make sure that all your pens, papers, and coffee cups are put away.

Tip 2: Share the storage space

It is also important to be mindful of sharing the storage space that you have available in your office. Just as you would likely not be impressed if someone else took up 90% of the available storage space, make sure that you are not the person that is hogging all the shelves and lockers. Even if you have a lot of items, try and organize them so that there is at least a reasonable amount of room for the colleague or colleagues that you are sharing your office with. 

Tip 3: Keep personal items to a minimum

Something else important when sharing a desk is to keep personal items on display to a minimum. While it may be appropriate to keep a photo or two out on the desk, try not to get carried away with lots of personal items. Remember, someone else will be using this same desk, and your personal photos are not going to be so appropriate when they are sitting there. Try not to keep out more personal items than them, or, put away anything personal when leaving the desk.

Tip 4: Share your schedule

Something else important when sharing with a colleague is to make sure that you are sharing your schedule with them. Especially if you do not work set days every week, make sure that you both know when each other will be in the office. There is nothing worse than arriving into work, only to discover that your colleague has decided that they will come into the office that day, and have already taken the desk. 

Tip 5: Keep in contact with your co-worker

More broadly than just sharing your schedule, also look to keep in good contact with the colleague that you are sharing with. It is much better to reach out and see if there are things that you could be doing differently than to let annoyances linger. Making small adjustments can go a long way in smoothing the shared desk experience in the long run.