I think we have all experienced that situation where a co-worker comes into your private office or cubicle and literally steals time out of your already hectic workday. What can you do to let them know you don’t have time without being rude? Some co-workers don’t take the subtle hints you throw their way and you have to come up with a strategy to escape, and do it quickly!
I came across a great list of ideas to keep people from wasting your time in the office at www.productivity501.com. I like these ideas because they do not seem outright rude or impolite, yet they will help to get the message out that your time is valuable.
- Stand – By standing when someone walks into your office, you will usually prevent them from taking a seat. This can help keep them focused on the purpose of their visit and getting back to work (where they can sit again).
- Meet them at the door – If you see someone about to come into your office, meeting them at the door puts you physically between them and your area. You are being polite because you’ve walked toward them to meet them, but at the same time, it prevents them from trapping you inside your office.
- Take Notes – This works well if a coworker is wanting to share the office gossip. Simply take out a pad and pen when they enter your area and ask them how you can help them. Their conversation is going to be much more focused on work if they think you are writing it down. I love this one! I wish I had thought of it myself years ago!
- Go to them – By going to meet them in their office or work space, you can stay in control of when you need to leave. It is much easier to leave someone else’s space gracefully than to remove them from yours.
- Walk them back to their work area – This has to be done carefully, but if you meet them at the door, it is usually pretty easy to stroll with them back to their work space while chatting and then tactfully excuse yourself.
- Office Furniture – Not having a place to sit can help keep your visitors focused. Keeping a guest chair in the closet for the times you need it works as well. Another idea is to keep your guest chair piled with stacks of paper or equipment and only clear it if you want your visitor to stay (this can look rather tacky, but if your office is already a mess …).
- Uncomfortable guest chair – I was introduced to this one when I began designing offices out of college. I had an executive tell me that he wanted uncomfortable side chairs so employees wouldn’t want to sit in them for long. What a great idea and something I have shared with others. When you are selecting guest chairs, remember you are not going to sit in them and how long do you want someone else to?
- Close your door – Depending on your office culture, closing your door can help reduce unnecessary interruptions. On the other hand, it can reduce interruptions that are important as well.
What do you think of these ideas? Have you tried any of them or have additional ideas that would work?