Our coworkers, bosses and clients come from all walks of life, what’s acceptable for one person in the office may not be acceptable for another person. Even though it feels like you spend more time in the office than at home, it is still important to maintain a certain level of professionalism and office etiquette instead of letting loose as you would at home.
Over time, our society has shaped some basic rules for etiquette in the office space that are typically accepted by everyone. Generally speaking, your goal should be to be respectful and courteous of others in the office. On a universal level, everyone tends to appreciate efforts of others to make them comfortable, the office space is no different.
Below are eight office etiquette rules for a good workplace environment:
1. Be Wary of Smells
Scents in the office can be magnified and can linger, just because it doesn’t bother you, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bother others in the office. The two main sources of smells at work are food and perfumes.
If you have a lunch or snack that will stink up the office, the office etiquette rule is to avoid eating at your desk and go to the lunchroom or outside instead. As for perfumes, people can be quite sensitive to them, minimize your use of strong perfumes, cologne, after shave and body spray.
2. Respect Other’s Time
At work, time is money, therefore it is the most valuable resource and should be respected! If someone looks busy, a good office etiquette rule is to not disturb them unless absolutely necessary. Disruptions can be irritating and bothersome to your colleagues. Before hitting “reply all” on that email, consider whether everyone needs to see it or not, you don’t want to fill up people’s inboxes for no reason.
Also, be on time, particularly when there is an important meeting or person in the office. Of course, things happen that impact our ability to be on time, but try not to waste other’s time by being tardy.
3. Personal Grooming
For some, personal grooming at work is a given, but for others they need a bit of a reminder. It can make others feel uncomfortable if you haven’t showered, have unkempt hair or nails, dirty clothes, or anything else that is inadequate personal grooming. Remember, the office is a professional space, you should look professional too!
4. Neat and Tidy Office
A messy and disheveled space may not bother you, but for others, disorganization and chaos in the office can be distracting and bothersome. An office is a shared space so it is important to be mindful and respectful to others by cleaning your portion of the office.
It is good practice to tidy up your desk before leaving each day by clearing away junk, removing coffee cups, organizing paperwork and putting away personal belongings. Your desk is an extension of you in a way, it is important that it looks professional just like you do.
5. Stay Home When You’re Sick
You’re only human, you can’t be productive and efficient 100% of the time, particularly when you’re sick. Not only is going to work when you’re ill a waste of time, it is disrespectful to your coworkers as they may fall ill too.
If you must go to work when you’re sick, be sure to cover your mouth when you cough, use hand sanitizer regularly and dispose of used tissues. In addition, wipe down your desk, computer and phone from time to time to prevent germs from spreading.
6. Be Cautious of Noise and Distractions
Sometimes, noises are inevitable, scanning, talking on the phone or to coworkers and stifling through paperwork are likely a requirement of your job. However, an important office etiquette is to be mindful of the sounds and disturbances you create so that you aren’t bothering others or breaking their concentration.
Some ways you can be mindful of others is closing the door or going into another room when you’ll be on long calls, listen to music or podcasts using headphones, don’t take personal calls at work and mute your phone and laptop.
As discussed, you should do your best to be considerate and respectful of others in the office. It should go without saying that your coworkers should be doing the same, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.
There are many different personalities and mannerisms apparent in the office, some are bound to rub you the wrong way. Do your best to tolerate others and keep an open mind. Even if someone is way out of line, it likely isn’t your decision to discipline or fire them, let things take its course while tolerating what you can.
Sometimes, meetings can be draub and lame, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the person speaking by tuning out or going on your phone. Do your best to give your undivided attention to the person speaking, quick texts or emails here and there are okay. You’d want everyone to listen to you if you were speaking!