Working Together in Shared Spaces

Dilbert cartoon illustrating how terrible an open office space plan is.

There are challenges that an open plan workspace brings. To learn more about open plan workspaces at UCSF, visit the Space website's Open Plan Design page. Collaboration also means close proximity to lots of people. The following are suggested guidelines:

Noise...We can all hear you!

  • Please be mindful of loud discussions, noise and cell phone conversations in common areas. Move your confidential conversations to huddle rooms.
  • Conversations that last more than 5 minutes should be moved to a huddle room. You might be kindly asked by a colleague to go to a room so they can concentrate on their work.
  • If you must pass through common spaces, try not to disturb those engaged in their work. Look for visual cues (sign up, headphones on, head down, etc.). Send an email if needed, that way they can address your question when they are ready and will probably have a better answer.
  • When listening to music, use headphones instead of speakers. One person's music is another person's noise.

Phone Use

  • Avoid using the speakerphone option on your desk phone.
  • Develop a softer telephone voice. Please park calls that are longer than a few minutes and take them in a focus or huddle room.
  • Adjust telephone ring loudness. Set desk phone to minimum ring volume. Set cell phone and/or pager to the minimum ring volume or vibrate and/or flash mode.
  • Consider the confidential matter of the calls you make/receive, even if they are short. Budget and personnel issues should generally be done in private rooms.


  • If you receive (or bring) flowers, please be mindful that they may trigger allergies among colleagues. Consider bringing flowers home at the end of the day.
  • Refrain from the over-use of perfume, cologne and other scented personal care products as these can trigger allergies, too.