Dawn Rebel


How To Be A Good Coworker In Small Spaces

OFFICE SPACE: Sharing is Caring

Messy office space with text: are you a bad coworker?

I’ve recently moved into a very tight workspace. 'We can smell each other’s brand of deodorant' kind of tight.

I happen to share my new desk space (a.k.a. folding table with two computer stations) with a wonderful desk-mate, thankfully.

But, as I look around the office, it’s easy to see trouble brewing. It’s easy to spot where conflict will arise, solely on the state of people’s workspace habits.

You’ve got your 10 empty Starbucks cups person. Your no sense of personal space person. Those who can’t seem to regulate the volume of their voice.  Those who love the boom-boom-wow music at 8am. You have your food hoarders, stationary hoarders, shoe hoarders, and your general all-around hoarders.

So, what does it mean to be a good coworker in tight quarters?

First, figure out what bugs you. Then, resolve not to do it.

The best way to understand what might bug your coworkers is to understand the stuff that gets under your skin. A little self-reflection is next—“Am I doing these things, too?” If you’re being all judgy on this, and its something YOU are also doing…you know where I’m going with this, right? “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Make those changes!

Next, think about what you really need at your workspace, and make a little list:

  • Pens
  • Notebook
  • Headphones
  • Charger
  •  …

Look at your list and determine if you have the tools you need to keep your space organized. Some inspiration:

one: Stacking Organizer Trays, The Container Store, $12.53 (this combo)

two: Dokument Letter Tray, Ikea, $9.99

three: Savannah Recycling Bin, Pottery Barn, $108.35

Corral your office supplies in an organizer, like those above, and then you’ll have a place for everything (and at the end of each day, put everything in its place).


  • Clean up your edibles.
  • Clear your desk at the end of every day.
  • Easy on the fragrance, but…
  • …Don’t forget personal hygiene
  • Try not to dictate your emails as you type them (*I’m an offender*).
  • Headphones for all sound/music.

In the end, after all your tidying, self-reflection, and true efforts to be a good coworker in tight spaces, there is one more thing you need to do:

Breathe. Be patient with people. Be understanding. Be tolerant.

Try and overlook the 10 empty Starbucks cups, the close-talker, the loud talker, the 8am boom-boom-wow music. Don’t stop liking the food hoarders, stationary hoarders, shoe hoarders, and your general all-around hoarders.

Because in the end, the only person you can control is you. So be a good coworker. Your mom would be proud.

If you’re running late for work this morning, get your act together with this instructional. Or, if you’re just heading back after a maternity leave this might help.