Every workplace has its own environment and set of acceptable behaviours. Most often, these are learned on the job as team and office dynamics are learned.
There are certain rules of etiquette, however, that apply regardless of role, company or sector.
For students entering the world of work for the first time (or even for professionals who have been working for years), it’s useful to take stock of one’s personal behaviours and think about how those behaviours fit (or don’t fit) into the bigger picture of a work environment.
Here are 6 universal work etiquette tips to keep in mind when entering the workforce:
Be mindful of communal areas
Whether it’s a hallway, a break room, the kitchen or even the toilets, be mindful of your behaviour in these areas. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a break and have a quick catch up with your colleagues, but people not part of your conversation don’t want to hear every detail of your life, nor do they want to clean up after you before having their own lunch.
Most likely, other people are trying to take their own breaks or enjoy their lunches - let them.
Don’t treat communal spaces as your own private domain; share the space and clean up after yourself so that everyone is able to enjoy the area.
Avoid speakerphone & private calls in shared spaces
On a similar point, be very conscious of your volume when working in shared spaces. Other people have their own task lists to worry about and don’t want to overhear your entire conference call being held over speakerphone.
Equally they don’t want to be included in your personal life while trying to get their work done. Book a meeting room, use headphones and take the phone call outside the office. All easy ways to avoid being that person that the entire office is forced to listen to as they take calls.
Don’t be a gossip
It’s not professional and it’s likely to cause unnecessary drama that does not belong at work. Just don’t do it.
Be on time; if you’re late, give notice
It’s easy to convince yourself that 5 minutes isn’t a big deal and that your team meeting is probably going to start late anyway. But time is money and everyone else was probably 10 minutes early to that meeting, so now they are sitting waiting on you. Or they just started the meeting without you.
Either way, being late is not a good reflection on you and it can very quickly become a bad habit. Send your line manager a quick text that you’re running late. Be respectful of other people’s time and the effort they made to be there.
Stay home if you’re ill
This is even more important now after the last year we have had! No matter what illness you have, even if it’s “just a cold”, be mindful of others and don’t infect them. Everyone has different immune systems and you don’t want to be responsible for the entire office getting ill. Speak with your line manager and work from home if need be, but remember your personal health is critical to you performing well at work. Take care of yourself (and your team).
Don’t be a lunch thief
Just don’t be that person.
A lot of these sound simple - but you’d be surprised how many people forget to follow these etiquettes in a workplace environment!
To prepare yourself even further for the world of work, take our employability skills online course to find out more about workplace etiquette, your rights at work and more: https://uptree.co/courses/uptree/develop-your-employability-skills