I’m so excited for all of you to read Punched Clock’s second guest post! Sacha and I worked together on this one, and I had a lot of fun in the process! Enjoy!
Four Basic Rules of Office Etiquette
It’s time for a morning team meeting. Out of habit you grab your phone and, again, out of habit, you check it when the familiar buzz vibrates in your lap or back pocket.
At one point or another we’ve all been guilty of this. Maybe we stared at our screens until it was brought up, or maybe you jumped and quickly tried to hide the device, but either way it generally makes you look like you’re not paying attention, and unintentionally makes you look rude; not good checks to have on your reputation.
If you want to look like the upstanding young professional you are, follow these basic rules of office etiquette:
Put your phone away. Just do it.
Having your phone on you is a bit of a given these days, and checking it sporadically is fine. But in meetings or when you’re talking business, it’s best to leave it behind. At the very least keep it on silent so you’re not tempted by the buzzing or in danger of a loud ringtone blaring throughout the office.
A lot like high school, you don’t want to get caught texting, or laughing at some silly joke in a group chat. While your manager may not take your phone away, or even write you up, if it becomes a habit it can result in negative consequences.
And no one wants to feel that shame again.
Take into account your surroundings.
While the days of lonely cubicles aren’t entirely over, a lot of upcoming businesses with desk jobs don’t put up barriers, and you can easily talk and communicate with the people around you. This isn’t a bad thing! It encourages office culture and collaboration, plus it’ll make it easier to make friends in the workplace.
But you need to remember to be polite.
Think of it in the sense of someone entering your room without knocking, and then continuing to be in your space even when you’ve tried to explain you’re busy. No one likes having their time invaded, especially when a matter is pressing, so try to be courteous. At least ask first or give a knock on the door.
Being polite and giving your office mates their space will keep you from getting on anyone’s bad side and make others more likely to help you when you do reach out.
Basically, it’s all about convenience and timing.
Oh, and we can’t forget general distractions. That means talking at a reasonable volume, taking your personal calls outside or to a different area of the building and generally not making any annoying sounds (we’re looking at you, food gnoshers and nose snifflers.) You know, the basics of keeping your personal life personal and not being an annoying co-worker.
Professionalism isn’t just for corporate offices.
Professionalism extends to all different parts of any business. Even if your office is casual, or you work in a place where it’s geared towards teamwork and collaboration, keeping it business in the workplace is essential to actually getting your job done.
Now, being professional doesn’t mean having to be stiff, or letting go of your individuality, but it does mean showing respect for your work and your coworkers. For example, wanting to get your point and idea across is fine, but being condescending is not and it can come off as being petty. Professionalism can also tie back into being polite, and using common sense for what is okay and what is not.
And, on a light hearted note, try to keep away from the gossip. I know we all want to talk about what crazy shenanigans we got into, that Facebook wreckage you witnessed, or what we saw Rachel from HR doing at the bar, but save it for out of office talk.
The bathroom and all its horrors.
This one, I cannot stress enough. It seems like the lesser of the evils, but the bathroom is the one place we all go. So keep it clean.
Keep the trash off the floor. Replace the toilet paper roll. Try not to get water everywhere. And for crying out loud, do a courtesy flush if one is needed.
We’re old enough to pick up after ourselves and have grown past the point of playing in the water. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I’ve had jobs where I go to wash my hands it’s like someone tried to create a slip and slide. That’s not the type of place I want to do business, and I definitely wouldn’t want to invite my clients to use the bathroom if that’s the condition it’s in.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember to wash your hands. It’s hard enough not getting sick in confined spaces, so let’s do our part to even the playing field. If you’re in a job where you share keyboards and computers, or touch someone else’s things, keeping your hands and equipment clean is the bare minimum to stopping the spread of germs.
While you may think this is common sense, it surprises me how many people pass up the small details that are common etiquette. There are more out there, but these are the basics that can be easily forgotten when you become comfortable or have never been in a similar environment before.
Take them for what they are, use them, and feel free to share your own input in the comments – we want to hear all your crazy office etiquette stories and tips, so don’t hold back!
About the writer: Sacha is an aspiring writer, currently feeling the struggle as she shamelessly promotes herself across the internet. She is in love with birds, big dogs that think they’re lap dogs, and all things science. You can see what she’s up to now on her Twitter page.