Secret Office Memos: Keep your shoes on, smellies!

More exciting and no doubt morale-boosting developments in the Tories’ ongoing modernization of the public service.

Readers will recall Treasury Board Prez Tony Clement’s latest brainwave, back-to-the-future “open plan” offices for government sluggos, with cubicle dividers removed to better surveil the slackers (See Also: Mr. Clement, tear down this baffle!)

All this creative disruption comes at a cost, so Public Works has come to the rescue with a pamphlet of etiquette guidelines for navigating the shining vistas of “workplace 2.0.”

“Being considerate and respectful of others is important when working in an open plan workplace. Striking the right balance between being accessible to your colleagues and staff and setting boundaries so you can concentrate on your work is key,” inmates are advised.

The pamphlet is jam-packed with tips to remind public servants how not to behave like animals, even as they get used to being housed not at all dissimilarly. A sampling:


– Use headphones to listen to the radio, music and audio clips on your computer. Headphones are great for keeping your noise in and other people’s noise out.


– Treat people as though they have enclosed offices. Wait to be invited into someone else’s personal space. (aka the Les Nessman protocol!—ed.)

– Do not read what is on someone’s computer screen unless you are asked to do so.

– Do not read other people’s files, touch their belongings or use their supplies without asking.

– Resist the temptation to answer questions or comment on conversations you overhear.


– Keep ring tones low and choose the least annoying options.

– Speak as softly as possible. Use your ‘library voice.’ Use a headset to help keep your own volume low.


– Eat lunch in the cafeteria or kitchen. Eating particularly fragrant foods at your desk can be a major irritant for your colleagues.

– Store gym clothes away from other people’s workstations.

– Keep your shoes on!

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7 comments on “Secret Office Memos: Keep your shoes on, smellies!
  1. Minimama says:

    Oh dear, they forgot about bad breath in the Etiquette Guidelines! “Breathe Through Your Nose” should be added under “Odours”, so as not to offend. Eh?

  2. Papadoc says:

    –Never, ever use your cubicle mate’s Vicks nasal inhaler, unless offered it. It spreads germs.

  3. Patrick60 says:

    Nothing about farting? Shurely not!

  4. Bush Pig says:

    This servant of the public forgot two key tips. First, don’t blow your nose on your tie. Second, don’t clip somebody else’s ID to your shirt.

  5. portabletrading says:

    Les Nessman used 3M yellow masking tape.

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve offered to put down some Nessman Tape (3M masking, usually, but on occasion, duct) if someone had personal space issues.

    Ah, the wacky world of NGOs..

  6. portabletrading says:

    When I renewed my passport, there was a sign in the local Service Canada outpost about treating civil servants with respect, or you’ll be asked to leave. This was after waiting 45 minutes for this so-called “service.” Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Service New Brunswick? Incompetent at best, willing to accept bribes at worst. Vroom vroom!

  7. gormab says:

    Just think: Some consultant billed a couple thousand dollars for that thumb-sucker.

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