Workplace Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to workplace etiquette, there are written and unwritten rules. Basic manners, phone courtesy and interacting with your co-workers — each of these areas requires your attention to ensure that work life moves along smoothly. Always keep in mind that you’re part of a group of people that should be able to work cohesively.

Working in Open Spaces

Nowadays, many offices and workspaces tend to be ‘open plan’ in nature. Working in an open plan-style office is almost like living in a neighbourhood. Employees in adjoining tables can chat and work together to achieve common goals or, in some cases, drive their co-workers mad. It’s important to remember, that it is necessary to have certain rules of etiquette, consideration and respect shown towards others, in order to make this arrangement function efficiently. Firstly, be careful when having conversations. Don’t speak too loudly in shared workspaces, as you may be interrupting another fellow co-worker from getting their work done. Furthermore, never shout to a colleague who is at a workstation several feet away to attract their attention.

Should you accidentally overhear a conversation that you know was intended to remain private between the people having the conversation, simply forget about its content. Likewise, should some of your colleagues be having a conversation, it is unprofessional to just waltz up and join in. In general, it’s quite easy to get along well in any working environment. What you should always be thinking about, is being accessible to people wherever possible, but still maintaining boundaries.

Arriving Late

Do you regularly find yourself running five minutes (or more) behind? Are you habitually dashing into meetings after everyone else has already sat down? If so, you’re facing an issue that could be undermining your career. Lateness is also never excused in any workplace. You may think arriving to work a few minutes late does not matter much. You may even rationalise that you will put in a few hours after work to make up, but it still reflects badly on you. Anyone can stay back a little late after work, but it takes great effort and discipline to arrive at work on time. Tardiness gives the impression that your job is not of great importance to you. An employee who constantly arrives late may lower the morale of the entire workplace.

Dress the Part

We’ve often heard the expression, first impression counts. Most people form their impressions of us based on our appearance. Whether this is fair or not, is not the issue, it is simply a fact. Since workplace etiquette extends to your wardrobe as well, follow the company’s dress code guidelines. If the dress code is open, adhere to these few unwritten rules.

Women – Your clothing should not be too short, tight or revealing. Your outfits should not be a distraction or uncomfortable. Ensure that you wear appropriate work heels, not club heels; even if it is ‘dress down’ Fridays. When it comes to accessories, less is more. Avoid over-accessorizing; ensure your jewellery isn’t too flashy.

Men – No matter how much you may want to grow a full, bushy beard, it just may not work for you. You don’t want to look like you’re too lazy to shave. Facial hair needs to be trimmed and tidy to maintain a professional look. Remember that when a company hires us, we represent that company both in the office and out.

Cell Phone Manners

Everyone loves the convenience of a cell phone. Your family and friends can reach you at any time, for any reason, no matter where you are, even at work. While it is a great way to stay in touch with your loved ones, cell phone use at work can distract you from doing your job, and it may annoy your co-workers. Whether it is your personal phone or one issued by the company, having your favourite soca or hip-hop tune blasting throughout the office, is not professional. A professional ring tone is important to convey a professional image. If your phone rings while you’re talking to a client or colleague, let it go to voice mail.  Answering it may indicate that you value the call over the conversation you’re having with the person. Don’t be that person who talks loudly, or the inappropriate talker who shares personal details for all to hear. Be mindful of your co-workers and your boss, not to mention, your own ability to get your job done.

Remember not everybody will share the same values as you do. Adopt a policy of treating people how you’d like to be treated yourself. It is a good benchmark to ensuring a harmonious workspace.



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