The ultimate guide to workplace etiquette
From taking sick days to how to introduce yourself, we take a look at modern workplace etiquette
Making sure everyone gets along in the office is vital for a successful and productive small business. That’s why the unwritten rules of office etiquette are so important. We thought it was worth a memory refresh of the most important rules and ways to behave.
Greetings in working environments are important. Whether it’s colleagues in a meeting, new clients or in a one-to-one with your boss, how you say hello gives an instant hint as to your mood and how you’re going to approach the rest of the encounter.
Try and be positive. This doesn’t have to mean smiling, but it does mean being proactive. Stand up and shake hands with someone you’ve not met before, say hello and make eye contact with colleagues, and ask a question to settle the mood – even a simple ‘how are things?’ can put people at ease.
Time is money, as they say. And while this might not be true if you simply work at a company, time is important as it could be the difference to getting home on time or staying late.
So keeping other people waiting is a big no-no. Try to avoid being late when possible, especially if meeting new clients. The same goes for turning up on time in the morning.
If you’re organising a meeting, try and keep them to 50 minutes. This allows a 10 minute turnaround time at the end so people can get between meetings. It also allows those looking to use the meeting room after you time to get in and settled.
With the birth of open plan offices, keeping your head down in your cubicle became a thing of the past. Now you’re constantly interacting with your colleagues, which means keeping distractions down to a minimum is important.
This covers a range of issues from eating nosily at your desk (crisps and apples are the main offenders), taking personal calls that distract others, and having lots of people standing around your desk chatting.
Other distractions could be related to smells – especially strong smelling food or perfumes.
It’s a fine balance in an office between people taking time off at the merest hint of a cold to those coming into work with the flu when they should really be in bed.
Employees taking sick days too frequently could start to annoy fellow workers. While those coming in when they’re actually sick risk spreading their illness to other people.
Celebrating with colleagues
Celebrating birthdays, weddings and births is all part of office life. Your office will possibly have its own way of celebrating, but the key is to get involved.
If the rest of your colleagues all contribute £5 towards a present, then it’s only fair you do so as well.
If you’re in a larger team then you might find that there are celebrations almost every week. If this is the case, the celebrations might be smaller in nature – maybe just a card. But again, make sure you sign it.
Whether a colleague’s departure is of their own doing or forced upon them, saying goodbye in a professional and friendly way is important.
Even if you didn’t get on with the person, don’t burn your bridges or be unprofessional. Be polite and wish them the best.
If you’re leaving, speak with the HR department about what you can and can’t say to colleagues and clients. Send an email around with your personal contact details and what you’ll be doing in the future, but don’t include details of things like redundancy packages or reasons you were fired.