A good majority of us spend 40 hours a week (or more) at the office. If you think about it, that’s more time than some of us manage to spend with our loved ones or children! Which kind of makes the office your second home… and that is exactly why we owe it to our co-workers and ourselves to be a little more considerate about how we behave.
You may be aware of general office etiquette such as the “correct” office attire (no hot pants please), the use of mobile phones (even if your BFF is in desperate need of an ear) and not stealing office stationary (yeah as if we would…) but here are some tips to steer clear of in order to keep your office etiquette and reputation in tact!
1. Publish something you might want to take back
It’s not just clients who have to be careful about going “on the record” but it applies to us all – what you say in your work e-mails and online chats can’t be deleted once sent. That’s pretty scary especially if you are in a company who monitors employee e-mail conversations!
Of course, going on the record doesn’t just stop at emails or online chats – if your co-workers and even your bosses are amongst the hundreds (or thousands) of friends that you’ve added or approved on Facebook, then take heed. This first rule is simple – NO ranting or (excessive) complaining about work via status updates unless you are operating your Facebook under a pseudo name! Especially if you’re supposedly on sick leave at home (oops!)
2. Remove the filter during the coffee break talk
An article published by CBS News last year highlighted the importance of holding back from giving away “too much information”. Though subjective, this is another no-no. There are some areas that shouldn’t be divulged upon under any circumstance, such as sharing graphic details of your sex life (or your best friend’s, neighbor’s or co-worker’s!), imposing your strong political or religious views, updating people about your bowel movements, and the list goes on. If you don’t want your business manager to lift his shirt to reveal his third nipple, then you should hesitate before telling people about what you found in your girlfriend’s drawer as well.
3. Apologize for everything and nothing, really
Owning up to your mistakes is a humble and gracious gesture, but when that gesture is used and tested too many times, it will only make matters worse. Another tips from CBS News: a quick “sorry about that” is enough to resolve a minor issue; if it’s a big one, apologize face-to-face and in private, then move on with life (or in this case, work). “Don’t grovel, make promises you can’t keep, or anything else. Just man-up and leave it alone.” Enough said!
Some people choose to bring lunch from home or have takeout at their desk while utilizing the extra time to focus on their own tasks or even tune out from work by, say – reading interesting articles online! Just because they’re still in the office, it doesn’t mean that you can interrupt them and occupy their lunch hour with work-related discussions. Imagine having just taken a third bite of your sandwich, right at the moment the YouTube video you’re watching gets really funny, and someone turns up to have you review an Excel spreadsheet. Kinda ruins the moment, doesn’t it?
5. Leave your mobile phone at your desk
If you have to leave your desk (even if it’s just for 30 seconds), always take your mobile phone with you – or put it on silent at least, because if someone happens to call in that moment, it can be very VERY distracting for everyone else to have to listen to your phone constantly ringing. On top of the noise, there’s also the question of your choice of customized ring tone (should you have one); not everybody wants to listen to the chorus of a pop song over and over again! So get your “shhh” on, or don’t leave your desk without your mobile phone or you may return to find it in your coffee!
6. Be the office sourpuss
Having a bad day at work? Feel like you’re struggling to complete tasks and meet deadlines? Find yourself discouraged or demotivated? If you can’t resolve it immediately, find ways to regain positivity. Step outside the building and stretch it out. Grab a chocolate muffin from the cafe if that would make you feel better. Complaining aloud about your workload, whining about others slowing you down or snapping at somebody just because you’re in a bad mood will dampen the atmosphere and drag everybody down with you. It’s okay to give yourself a break especially if it means sparing the sanity of those around you!
7. Refuse to get to know your team
It is understood that you are there because you have work to do – but do appreciate initiatives your co-workers take to provide a happier and friendlier working environment. It’s fine if you don’t want to head the party committee, but try to dedicate some time to get to know your co-workers better by attending that big group lunch or the little birthday party in the coffee room. Start having some non-work related fun with your colleagues and see this translate into the work space as well.
8. Gossip about work or co-workers on company property
Keep your juicy discoveries and personal beefs with your co-workers at home or as far away from the company zip code as possible. Or even better: focus on being as productive as you can be by avoiding gossip – period! It’s never healthy to indulge in dissing people behind their backs, especially if it could wind up affecting your career and trust us, it will. Gossip has a sneaky way of doing the office rounds before landing (in an exaggerated form) in the lap of the gossip victim so avoid the trouble by keeping quiet.
We’re all guilty of making some of the above mistakes. Did you find these tips handy? Have any of your own on how to tackle poor office etiquette? Add to our list or simply share your (perhaps funny) stories!