When it comes to the use of office furniture there are several etiquette rules that should be observed and these rules will differ from office to office. What is acceptable in one place will be your downfall in another. Suss out the rules of your new office early on and you will be welcomed with open arms if you observe them in the decent way.
Open plan offices take a great deal of delicate handling. Office furniture is often laid out in a manner where all workers are in fairly close proximity and all types of rules should be applied. You will not, ever, get away with making just one coffee. If in doubt, offer those in your immediate vicinity a drink when you make your own. If this is not the way things are done in that particular office, at least it will make you look good.
Another tip for open plan office furniture is that of keeping your own house in order. Do not allow your paperwork to spill onto the desks of others and never leave your bag on the floor where others can trip over it. If you have a cough or cold, always stay at home. Open sneezing causing spattering of nasal secretions on those around you will incur the wrath of that foam in your coffee not being from extra vigorous stirring.
Some offices will be open plan but have partitions as part of their standard office furniture. These are to allow a little privacy and division of work places. They are not sound proof. An argument with your wife over the phone will be heard and dutifully embroidered upon and spread by those around you until, by the time you leave work for the day, your colleagues from the next office are commiserating with you on your divorce.
Partitions are not smell proof either. For the women, over powering perfume is annoying to your colleagues and for the men, it really is only you that finds your personal bodily gases entertaining and fragrant. Please limit all aromas to coffee or fresh laundry and you will be more popular.
Computers are the staple of any office furniture and as such should be treated with the utmost care. Any punching or slamming of office equipment that doesn't do what you want when you want it will be frowned upon, as will using computer equipment as projectiles.
Emails should always be kept professional as bosses that are good at delegation often find they have quiet spots in their day and will fill them with checking up on who's sending what to whom and if people are talking behind his back. Any bitching about colleagues or the boss should be saved for the ladies loos and not bandied about via emails.
Lunching on office furniture is always a delicate subject. If you must eat at work, nobody wants to smell your lunch so keep the spices for at home. Similarly, nobody wants to be leaning in your lunch if you happen to share a desk so always clear up crumbs behind yourself and never, ever, drop food in the keyboard. Anything nasty growing out of it in a few weeks time could spread germs and see you getting scorn poured from above.
Networking is an important aspect of office life. If a lunch is held in honour of new contacts and any alcoholic beverage is served, please remember that office furniture is not a prop to be used when flirting. In fact, just don't flirt at all. This will not further your career, only get you a bad reputation.
For those moments in the day when you feel yourself flagging, do not fall asleep at your desk. Office furniture is never comfortable and walking around an hour later with qwerty stamped on your face is a bit of a give-away. If that forty winks is absolutely necessary, try the stationary cupboard.
Office expert Catherine Harvey looks at the best use of office furniture and what to avoid.