How to be the Best Office Mate

Posted November 21, 2013 by Adrienne Asselmeier in On the Ladder
My office work experiences have varied widely. I’ve done collaborative spaces, single offices, and shared offices with just one other person. The people with whom I’ve shared my space have also been very different types—from super-amazing to awesomely horrible. As I transition into my new position and go back to working in a collaborative space (that’s right, there’s nowhere to hide!) I’ve thought about the top traits of pleasant office mates.

Here’s my list of dos and definite don’ts!


  • Keep your space organized. You don’t have to make it sparkle, but if your mess is a huge eyesore, or if it is overflowing into the space of others, you’re going to cause problems. Plus, there’s nothing worse than someone leaving messes in common spaces, or even losing important work because their system is cluttered and ineffective. Don’t be that lady!
  • Keep things positive. Everyone has worked with someone who is always negative, complaining about something before bringing up worries about something else. Ugh. I’m tired just thinking about it! No one wants to be around someone who is a bummer. Don’t be fake and bubbly, but keep it lighthearted.
  • Beware of the annoying things you do. I know that I can talk a lot. I really like to listen to music, and some of it is weird. Plus, I giggle to myself sometimes because I come across funny things on the internet. However! However, I try to be aware of these things and to not go overboard when I’m around other people. I wear headphones. I save the giggles for breaks, and I keep stories and socializing somewhat more brief, or at least matched to the amount of what the people around me do.
  • Help other people and give compliments. Don’t just do these things to be owed favors or to guilt people. Do them because you’re a nice person who cares about others. If you tell people that you think they did a great job, that you appreciate their help, and that you don’t mind doing something for them, everyone will be on your side. Make sure that you’re not getting walked on or doing other people’s work, but don’t be stingy with your talents.
  • Be thoughtful. Just think about the other people around you. You’re less likely to make a faux pas or be the annoying office mate if you’re just thinking about others before you act.


  • Don’t be smelly. This can be a lot of things. Even pleasant smells in overdose-quantities are unpleasant. Don’t load up on potpourri, cologne, or perfume. Try to avoid really smelly lunch foods (I love onion and garlic more than anyone, but I don’t take them to work), too.
  • Don’t bother other people. There are times when you won’t know that you’re bothering someone. Sometimes positivity bothers people! That’s not what I’m talking about. Pay attention to how much other people talk.
  • Don’t interrupt, and look out for those cues that someone is busy, or that you’ve overstayed your conversational welcome. There’s nothing worse than a nice person who doesn’t know when to leave you alone.
  • Try to prove how smart you are. I am not a psychologist so I can’t pretend to understand why people do what they do, but I think I have encountered a lot of insecure people who think they can prove how smart and valuable they are by pretending to know everything and giving input on everything. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but what you don’t say. Just because you don’t have a quip or comment doesn’t mean that you’re not smart—it means that you’re not blathering, or spouting redundancies.
  • Push work off on other people. This is the most effective way to get your office mates to hate you. Be the lazy guy! Constantly say that things aren’t your job. Say that you’ll do things and then get someone else to do them! It will be super fun for you. Just kidding! Don’t do those things unless you want to be the worst office mate ever.

These are no secret, but it’s amazing how many people are irksome to work with and they don’t even realize how much they get on the nerves of their colleagues. If everyone just made an effort to consider their actions and habits while their in the presence of others, we’d all have great work environments. Let’s do it!

About the Author

Adrienne Asselmeier

Adrienne "Dren" Asselmeier is a writer and marketing specialist. Dren has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and is a blogger, runner, over-achiever, and friend to everyone. She likes to write about science-based health and fitness, small business ownership, and motivational topics.