These days, open plan offices are increasingly becoming the rule, not the exception. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a job that has retained the likes of private offices for head honchos and cubicles for everyone else.

If you're used to a private way of working, going open plan can be a shock to the system though. Keen to be successful in an open plan office – and make friends at the same time? These tips are a good place to start.

1. Keep It Down

The number one rule of open plan working is to watch your volume. Whether you're working at your desk, collaborating on a project or simply walking through the office on the way to the kitchen, use your inside voice. Keep your phone on silent (or at least not at full volume), and when you're using it don't shout down it like your half-deaf Aunty Mildred is on the other end. If you need to have a discussion with a number of people, move to a secluded corner of the office or a dedicated meeting area. And if you like to listen to music or podcasts while you work, always remember your headphones.

2. Keep It Fresh

When you're working in close proximity to other people, it's important to pay attention to odours too. Don't wear overpowering perfume or cologne, and avoid emptying half a can of Lynx Africa at your desk before you head out for lunch.
Kitchen-based aromas like fish, eggs and reheated curry could put your colleagues off so consider leaving smelly foods for after hours. If you're a lunchtime gym bunny, be considerate to your neighbours and wash off before heading back to your desk. And if you're feeling under the weather, use one of your sick days and keep your germs at home.

3. Keep It Private

One downside of an open plan office is the lack of privacy. Keep your eyes on your own work and not your co-worker's browser. If you need to take a confidential phone call or have a private conversation with someone, do it away from everyone else. Everyone deserves their privacy, even if they work shoulder to shoulder.

4. Keep It Clean

Keeping your desk area neat and clean goes a long way to maintaining good relationships with your co-workers. Organise papers and files, utilise drawers to keep your desk space clutter-free, regularly use your rubbish bin, and return used plates and utensils to the kitchen at the end of the day. Respect communal areas by keeping them tidy too.

5. Keep It Mutual

An open plan office works because everyone does their bit to keep it running. If the dishwasher needs emptying, the printer is low in toner or a rubbish bin is overflowing, solve the problem yourself or alert the appropriate person. When everyone respects the space and the people, work will not only be more productive, it'll also be more fun.