10 Top Tips for Office Etiquette

Office Fornitures

Image by Håkan Dahlström

Whether you work alongside forty people or four thousand, it’s important – actually, vital – that you observe certain rules of decorum while you’re in the office. Different workplaces may have different standards of dress, privacy, and social interaction, but even allowing for some variation there nonetheless remain some general social conventions you should always adhere to in the workplace.


1) Dress Appropriately

Whatever the dress code of your office, it’s important that you appear neat and smart. It doesn’t matter if you’re required to wear a suit every day or if you’re permitted to wear jeans – your clothes still need to be clean, ironed, and fit properly. Of course, the rest of you has to look presentable as well!


2) Be Punctual

Turning up late to work every day isn’t going to impress anyone. Nor will showing up late to meetings or other scheduled activities. Even if you’ve got a lot of work to do, lateness demonstrates a lack of organisation as well as a lack of regard for other people’s time. Schedule your work around your meetings and keep track of time.


3) Put Your Phone on Silent

Different places have different policies about phone usage during office hours. But unless you have your own room, remember to put your phone on silent. Especially with smartphones which receive notifications from emails, Facebook and Twitter, in addition to texts and calls.


4) Be Respectful of Other People’s Privacy

Unless you have office partitions separating your desks, it’s really easy to look at other people’s screens when they head off somewhere. Don’t. Even if you’re friends with them, there’s every chance they’ve left a browser window or email open with something they don’t want people to see. Just focus on your own work – why are you looking at someone else’s computer anyway?


5) Don’t Talk Loudly

Nothing’s more distracting than people having a conversation about their weekend plans right next to you when you’re trying to work. If you’re engaged in idle chitchat, keep your voice down – or better yet, save it for lunch or some other designated break.


6) Don’t Bother People Unnecessarily

Even if whatever you want to discuss is work-related, is it really worth bothering your colleague and the people sitting around them by just walking up to them and asking directly? Unless it’s urgent, message them privately and arrange to speak to them some place quiet.


7) Ask Before You Borrow Anyone’s Stuff

Even if you think it’s fine to borrow a few paper clips or a pen without asking, that doesn’t mean the person you’re borrowing those things from feels the same way. And it’s their opinion that matters. Always ask.


8) Wait Your Turn

When it comes to using office facilities, like microwaves, toasters or printers – follow whatever established rules there may be about using them. Chances are that will involve waiting your turn and not taking ages when it is your turn.


9) Be Careful With Your Food

Even if you’re allowed to eat at your desk, wield that power cautiously. Does your food give off a strong smell? Then eat somewhere else. Food preferences aren’t universal, and in an office environment it’s especially important to respect that.


10) Shower

This one might seem kind of basic, but people have differing standards of personal hygiene. Whatever your daily regime, it’s important that you still look and smell fine. And if you cycle to work, you may want to consider showering once you arrive at your workplace – or run the risk of putting off your colleagues by looking sweaty and dishevelled!


Do you have any more vital tips for office decorum? Share them in the comments!