If you are like most, you spend a considerable amount of time at your workplace. As such, you want your office to be a pleasant place to be. You also don’t want to make the job site miserable for others. Therefore, you must follow some workplace etiquette rules. While the following list isn’t exhaustive, it should give you a general idea of how to behave in the office.
Here are 20 workplace etiquette rules you should know before you start your first day of work.
1. Respect The Conference Room
Your office’s conference room is for conferences. It is not your personal workspace. Therefore, avoid the temptation to spread out large projects in common areas. Also, don’t use the conference room as your personal dining area.
Finally, remember that others are likely waiting to use conference space. As such, conclude meetings as quickly as possible and evacuate the space.
2. Go Easy On The Fragrances
When you are at a nightclub, you may want to smell like your favorite cologne or fragrance. That’s fine. In the office, however, fragrances can irritate your coworkers. Not only may your colleagues have different olfactory preferences, they may suffer from migraines, asthma or other conditions that are aggravated by strong fragrances.
3. Close Your Door For Private Calls
Your company may have a policy about taking private calls during working hours. If it does, follow the policy. If it doesn’t, understand that personal calls can be distracting. They can also harm your professional reputation.
Therefore, if you must take a private call at work, close your office door. If you work in a cubicle, step to an area where your private call can remain private.
4. Practice Active Listening
While talking to colleagues or attending meetings, practice active listening. This means giving your undivided attention to whomever is speaking. Also, close your laptop, hang up the phone and otherwise eliminate distractions until the speaker stops talking.
5. Use The Mute Button
Your colleagues don’t want to hear a ding every time you receive an e-mail message. They also don’t want to listen to your personal ringtone. Accordingly, mute notification features when you are in your office.
6. Don’t Congregate In The Bathroom
The bathroom in your office is for personal needs. It is not a conference room. Therefore, exit the bathroom when you are done using it. Do not congregate or engage in talks with your colleagues in the restroom. Also, stay off your personal smartphone when you are using the facilities.
7. Pick Up After Yourself
You wouldn’t trash the bathroom, kitchen or other parts of your home. You shouldn’t do it at work either. Expecting custodians to clean up your mess is rude. It also makes you look bad. To preserve the comfort of your office and your professional reputation, don’t leave messes in your wake.
8. Talk With An Inside Voice
Trying to focus on your job duties while someone is shouting or cackling can be virtually impossible. Still, everyone has worked with a loud talker. Don’t be that person. Whether you are talking to one person or an entire group, use a moderate volume. If your conversation is disruptive, move it to a conference room or other private space.
9. Avoid Bullying
All your colleagues may not understand your gentle ribbing or inside jokes. Even if you think you are funny, you must be cognizant not to become the office bully. If you are, you may not be able to complete your job responsibilities. You may also find yourself the subject of an HR investigation or adverse employment action.
10. Stay Home When You Are Sick
Coming into the office when you are contagious isn’t going the extra mile. On the contrary, it is downright irresponsible. Remember, you don’t function your best when you are sick. You may also cause an epidemic to break out at your office. Simply put, if you are sick, stay home until you get better.
11. Be Fridge-Friendly
If your office has a refrigerator, you may love putting your lunch inside it. Still, fridges can be a major source of workplace friction. To be fridge-friendly requires four steps:
Don’t use more than a reasonable amount of space. You should be able to store your lunch in just a few inches of refrigerator space.
Don’t abandon rotting food in the refrigerator. Take your leftovers home at the end of every day. Clean the entire appliance when it is your turn. If your office fridge has a shared cleaning schedule, do the job cheerfully and on time. Don’t eat anyone else’s food. By clearly labeling your lunch, you can help limit confusion.
12. Stand Away From The Elevator Door
Elevators are everywhere, but an alarming number of individuals don’t know how to use them properly. If you are the first to arrive at an elevator, push the call button. Then, stand aside so those exiting the elevator can do so without tripping over you.
While elevator etiquette is simple, infractions happen all the time. Therefore, after you master elevator usage in your organization, serve as an example for your colleagues and others in society.
13. Call When You Are Late
Practically no one can get to work on time every day. If you are running late, be sure to give your coworkers a heads up. Depending on how your company functions, you may also want to alert the receptionist to your tardiness. Further, if you are going to be late for a meeting or phone call, notify all participants.
The general rule is to offer a two-minute warning for every minute you anticipate being late. For example, if you are going to miss the first thirty minutes of your meeting, tell everyone at least an hour before it starts.
14. Be Thoughtful With Your Email Tone
Email tone can be tough to decipher, as it lacks the social cues that come from personal interactions. As such, be considerate of your email’s tone. Meanwhile, if your office has email protocols, be sure you follow them.
15. Take Advantage Of Your Out-of-Office Greeting
If you are going to be away from the office for an entire day, a few days or a few hours, use the out-of-office features on your voicemail and email. While you don’t need to be too specific, you should alert others of when you plan to return. You should also provide the name and contact information for someone who can assist while you are away.
16. Open Doors Respectfully
Gone are the days when men were expected to hold doors for women. Nowadays, gender-neutral etiquette requires you to open doors respectfully. Don’t be afraid to hold doors for anyone, but especially allow your boss to enter before you.
Note, however, that door-opening etiquette varies widely from organization to organization. If you are unsure how to behave, watch for cues from others.
17. Observe Personal Space
While handshakes and pats on the back are common in offices, hugs and kisses generally have no place. Essentially, you should visualize a two-foot bubble around colleagues and business associates. Unless you are shaking hands, you shouldn’t breach this bubble. If you feel you have been assaulted, you should immediately take your complaint to HR.
18. Be Discreet
If you have a tough day at work, you may want to go home and blow off some steam on social media. You may also want to document your crazy night at the bar by posting a few photos to your online accounts. Doing so, however, is generally a mistake.
Remember, few things are private in the digital era. If you want to keep your personal and professional reputations intact, be discreet on social media. Certainly, never badmouth your employer in online forums.
19. Do Your Work
You were hired to perform certain job duties. Passing off unwanted tasks to colleagues is not only unprofessional, it is rude. Therefore, when you are in the office, do your work. If you are unable to complete it in an appropriate timeframe, talk to your manager about solutions. Do not, however, leave the tasks you dread to others to accomplish.
20. Limit Personal Stories
Because you and your colleagues spend a significant amount of time at work, you must get to know each other. Still, you must not forget that your relationship is not personal. It is professional. Therefore, try to limit personal stories. This is specifically important if your private tales involve intimate or sensitive subjects.
Also, consider your audience. If you are talking to a group, you may need to be more discreet than if you are talking to your primary teammate. Finally, check your company’s handbook for harassment guidelines before discussing personal matters with professional contacts.
Remember, you can make the office a comfortable, respectful place for yourself and your coworkers. Unless you work by yourself, you must memorize these 20 workplace etiquette rules before you step into the office for the first time. You must then follow them to avoid turning your job site into a miserable place.