Usually, most of us are spending the better part of our day in the office and that means that we all need to behave in a way that is respectful and considerate of all coworkers around us.
What does office etiquette mean? Office etiquette means following unwritten rules set in the company by the employees. These rules are referring to having appropriate manners and behaviors, being courteous of other employees, and using the equipment in a suitable manner in order to have a harmonious workplace.
Inadequate behavior can lead to disagreements and tension between employees and can affect a company’s culture. Respecting the office etiquette and rules can help in resolving all occurring issues on a daily basis. Also, communication will be easier on all levels.
When everyone knows their place in the company and how they should behave, this will result in creating a professional, positive environment that will help all employees in their path for personal and professional growth.
There are several rules to follow, even if they are not given black and white on an official document:
Every workplace has its own dress code. Even if there are no strict rules on dressing, employees should be dressed in sync with the company’s dress code. After all, your attire and the overall look is the first impression you will leave with anyone.
In the most recent years, the term business casual dress code is very popular, even though not everyone understands what this term means. Depending on the company, this term can mean a lot of different things. For example, for some, casual dresses, casual pants, even khakis, and polo shirts may fit in this criteria.
Then some companies may forbid wearing jeans or sandals to the office. Some will require different attire in the office and different on client meetings. Either way, clothes should be clean, ironed, and not very revealing.
If you aren’t sure about the company’s dress code, you can easily see how your managers dress or ask your HR department to give you all the needed information. Every employee is an ambassador for its company, so their attire should not present an inaccurate impression for the company in front of clients and customers.
Being punctual doesn’t refer to only coming to the office 5 minutes early, but also means that you are on time for every meeting, presentation or seminar. This way you will show respect towards your coworkers and that you value their time as much as yours.
By being pleasant and using common courtesy will demonstrate your response to the people you work with. Also, words such as Thank you, Please, You are welcome, add politeness to your communication, so when you have some requests from coworkers, they will be more eager to help you.
When you are polite, your coworkers and managers will be happy to collaborate with you.
Try to use these magic words whenever you have the opportunity since they have a very important place not only in your business life but also in your personal life.
When building your career, you will most likely work with other people on different projects all the time. Sometimes can be really difficult to collaborate with someone due to different personalities and expectations.
One of the office etiquette rules is to be open as much as you can, communicate, and get along with your coworkers. Make sure to take your time listening to other people’s opinions. Of course, you may not always agree, but try to be open and find some common ground, since you might end up learning something new and earn the respect of your coworkers.
There are a eleven additional etiquette rules that can help in forming successful workplace relationships:
1. Be friendly to your coworkers and to the new employees - It will cost you nothing to be a friendly person. People will appreciate you, so take your time to encourage and help not only the new employees but also the existing ones, whenever they need assistance in certain areas. Screaming at your coworkers with aggression is totally unacceptable, unprofessional, and is not allowed at any time.
2. Don’t criticize your coworkers for their ideas - When someone has an idea, and you don’t like that idea, try not to criticize or make fun of the idea. You can express your opinion in a way that is acceptable and not offending
3. Be Considerate - Working in an open-floor workplace means that you have to take in account the ways your coworker works, respect them and vice versa. Some people prefer to work in complete silence, while others prefer to have certain background music. So try not to impose your own personal habits.
4. Be Responsible - When you promise to do a certain task, keep your promise. If for some reason you are not able to finish the task, be open and tell your team members in a timely manner.
5. Do Not Gossip - Gossiping is, unfortunately, a usual thing in the offices. To be a professional try not to engage and spread the gossip. It’s undoubtedly that you will hear some gossip while working, so try not to give any comments.
6. Have open communication and don’t assume - Try to have open communication with your coworkers on a daily basis. They can’t read what is on your mind. Also, you can’t assume that by telling a few people certain information, everyone will know it. When you have to share important information, make sure to include all of the concerned people in your email.
7. Be Tolerant - The workplace contains a myriad of different people and personalities. Try to adapt and be tolerant of all the difference between you and your colleagues. You can’t agree with everyone at the same time, so try to keep an open mind.
8. Respect your coworkers’ off time - Don’t contact your workers after work hours, when they are on vacation, or having a sick leave for work matter, unless you have permission to do so. Of course, you are allowed to call them as a friend and not as a colleague.
9. Have respect to the allergies of your coworkers - Avoid bringing food, or putting strong perfumes, to which your coworkers are allergic to. When people are allergic to something, they will make sure to inform everybody. Of course, no one wants to be the cause of sending a coworker to the hospital.
10. Be courteous - Whether is a man or a woman, common courtesy of opening doors or helping with heavy stuff is always welcomed.
11. Acknowledge a job well done - When you have a chance, give good work credits to your colleagues. It will boost their motivation and results.
Unintentionally you can be loud and create several distractions for your colleagues, starting from:
- Being loud while talking to another colleague. Whether the conversation is work-related or something personal, the rest of the office doesn’t need to hear your conversation;
- Being loud while taking a personal call. This can be very disturbing for the people around you, especially if you run the call on a speaker mode. If you are in an office, close the door. If you are working in an open plan workplace, go to an area that is more private.
- Having long conversations at your workstation. Nobody in the office is interested to hear how your weekend went, or your chores for the day.
- When a coworker is taking a business call, try to keep the noise at a minimum.
- Also getting up and down and moving around can also create unwanted distractions.
- If you want to listen to certain music, wear headphones. Even though classical music might help you to have a better concentration, your colleagues might not feel the same as you.
- Do not set a disturbing ringtone on your mobile phone. Make sure your phone is on vibrate or silent mode.
- Lower the volume of the computer notifications.
6. Beware of the Smells
If you plan to eat food with a strong smell, try to eat your meal in the kitchen, or outside. Eating at your desk can cause spreading not very pleasant odors in the office. Especially in small offices, smells from the packed lunch can be felt right away.
Also, you should be careful with applying strong perfume or cologne. Strong perfumes can be a cause of headaches.
When you are sick, take a few days to get better. You won’t do any good for your team if you can’t focus to do your job. If you really need to work, work remotely from the comfort of your home. This way you won’t pass any germs to your colleagues.
Make sure to sanitize your desk, wipe out the desk and keyboard and don’t leave any used tissues lying around. When you cough or sneeze, keep the handkerchief close to your face because otherwise, it can spread in the office.
Treat everyone’s workstation as a private office. Even if it’s within your reach, ask for permission if you need to borrow or use something from their desk.
Even if you have some mutual task, try not to look at the screen of their computer, checking their documents and files without permission or hover around their desk. This might feel as intruding in their personal space. Also, just because they sit next to you, doesn’t mean that they are available to have a chat with you. Don’t interrupt them while making business calls.
When you visit a coworker in their office or a cubicle, you should knock. This is a way of showing people that you are there, asking permission to enter the room, and respecting their space before speaking. If you need their help, ask them to come and see you when they are not busy, or tell them you will come back at a more convenient time.
When you have a meeting, you should pay your full attention. Try not to check your phone, your email, send messages or answering calls. These actions are showing disrespect towards your colleagues, and you might miss some important details and information. Also, these distractions can break your concentration and focus, especially if you called the meeting.
Another important and professional thing is carrying a notepad and a pen. Meetings are for discussing important topics, and remembering all of that can be difficult, so you might end up missing some points.
Meetings should take place in a conference room or a dedicated room, and not at yours or someone else’s desk. Other employees should not be concerned with your project, especially when there is a need for confidential matters discussion.
Meetings starting and ending time should be on point. Make sure to cover all of the questions in a timely manner and finish the meeting in the planned time. Nobody wants to stay in a meeting for more than it should be, and spend their precious time.
The general rule is to answer the phone within 3 rings if your work allows it. This practice will help you in creating good customer relationships. There is a chance that you will miss a call, once in a while, so try to reply to the voicemail- if there is one, as soon as possible.
Most of the instant messages and emails that you receive are work-related and time sensitive. To be a professional, try to reply to emails as soon as you can when your work allows. Emails should have formal writing, without the use of slang language. Emails are written a proof of the employees' behavior, so be careful when writing and sending one.
Not every situation is fit for hitting the “reply all” button. For example, If there is a group email sent to the whole company about the upcoming teambuilding, there is no need of hitting reply all and at the same time receiving emails from hundreds of people sharing their thoughts.
When in an email are included people of interest and are discussed important matters, then hitting reply all is a must.
Keep your desk clean and tidy at all times. A messy desk can create an unprofessional image of you and can be quite a distraction for your colleagues. A tidy desk is a reflection of a responsible and organized employee. Keep all of your stuff in your designated personal space, and clean up your space before leaving work.
If you are sharing a desk, make sure to take away all of the coffee cups and certain office supplies at the end of the workday. Also, don’t leave your dirty dishes in the kitchen, instead wash them.
Even though most of the companies have hired a cleaning service, that doesn’t mean that you can throw your garbage wherever you like.
If you have some of your coworkers as friends or followers on different social media platforms, make sure the content you post is appropriate. Don’t make complaints about the company, your managers, or colleagues. Everything you post on social media is no longer private and it can affect your career and not in a good way.
Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be nervous or show some attitude when you come to the office. Even if you don’t say anything, your colleagues can feel the tension.
Give yourself a 10-minute break to chill out and calm yourself. Make sure to stay professional even on your worst day.
What is Office Kitchen Etiquette? Office Kitchen Etiquette is taking care of the company’s kitchen even though there is a cleaning service. This includes cleaning the kitchen area and appliances after you, so the kitchen is clean, hygienic and tidy for the colleagues that will use the facilities afterward.
Also, one of the general rules is not touching the others’ food left in the refrigerator or in the pantry, because it is considered inappropriate, rude, and annoying.
Another very important aspect of the kitchen etiquette is that everyone needs to use the kitchen. So when someone occupies it for a longer period, and after heating their food, are still preparing their food in front of the kitchen microwave, it is totally okay to ask them politely to make room for your bowl too.
What is Office Party Etiquette? Even though office parties can be more relaxed social gatherings, still you have to keep your dignity, be sober, and not do anything foolish. After all, you are still monitored by your managers, bosses, and coworkers, and don’t want to be the main gossip topic in the following weeks.
Office parties can present great opportunities to meet colleagues that aren’t on your team, and establish positive and friendly relationships with other people in the office.
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