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  • Writer's pictureRihazudin Razik

Basic Office etiquette

We often feel like we spend more time at work than at home, and that's because most of us spend 8 hours or more a day in an office. This means that being polite at work is very important. Etiquette at work makes people feel comfortable around each other and makes a good impression.

Follow these rules of etiquette to keep the peace and harmony in your office.

Be nice to people who just got hired.

Take the time to meet new employees and tell them who you are and what you do. Make sure they know how you might be able to help them in their new position. If they work with you, invite them to lunch. Be friendly to them on their first day, which can be scary.

Look at how you move.

Everyone has bad mornings, and sometimes they follow you to the office. Pay attention to your body language even when you're not talking. If you're feeling angry or frustrated, take a 10-minute "time-out" in a private place to calm down. You don't want to give the wrong impression at a morning meeting or when you're being evaluated on your work. Office etiquette requires professionalism even on your worst day.

Be on time.

Being on time means coming five minutes early, whether you're going to work or a meeting. It's disrespectful to show up late. It shows your coworkers that you don't care as much about their time as you do about yours.

Minimise the jargon

Corporate jargon is hard to avoid, but that doesn't mean you have to use it all the time. The key is to make yourself clear and easy to understand. Most of the time, jargon is too hard to understand because it is too vague. Slow down and focus on how to talk well.

Wear the right clothes.

Every office has a dress code, and you need to make sure that what you wear fits that code. There are rules to follow whether you work at a corporate law firm or it's casual Friday.

Stay home if you're sick.

Do your team a favour and don't give everyone the germs that cause pneumonia. Take a day or two to help yourself feel better. When you are sick and can't see the numbers on your computer screen, you can't help anyone. If you have to work, you can work from home by taking your laptop with you. When you get back to work, don't forget to clean your desk.

Respect the time off of coworkers

Don't talk to a coworker after hours, when they are sick, or when they are on vacation unless they have told you to. Respect their time off just as they respect yours.

Knock before you enter

Knock before you enter any office. It's a way to let someone know you're there before you speak. The same is true when you go to the cubicles of your coworkers. Even though their space doesn't have a door, you can still knock on the wall of their cubicle. If they are busy with work, tell them to stop by when they have a chance or set up a time to go back and talk to them.

Turn down the music

You might think that classical opera is the best music to help you focus at work, but your coworkers might not agree. It's fine to have soft music playing in your area as long as the volume doesn't make it hard for other people to think. Turn the volume down to a level that isn't too loud or wear headphones.

Give all your attention to meetings.

This means that you can't answer the phone, text, or check your email. If you don't give a meeting your full attention, you may miss important details. Even worse is if you're the one who called the meeting and you let these things take your attention away.

Respect the space of everyone.

Even if a coworker's desk is close by, that doesn't mean the space is shared. Treat it like a private office. Don't just take whatever is on their desk; instead, ask if you want to borrow something. You could also get your own things.

Respect the allergies of other people.

Avoid strong smells or foods that some of your coworkers are allergic to. No one wants to be the person who has to take someone to the hospital.

Keep social media appropriate.

If you are "friends" with coworkers online, you should know that nothing you post is truly private or confidential. Don't use social media to say bad things about your boss, company, or coworkers. Even though complaining can help relieve stress, if you do it too much, it could hurt your career.

Use private rooms to talk on the phone.

Close your door when you take a personal call, if you have one. If you are talking in an open office, move to a place where you can have a private conversation. If you can't do either of these, try to keep the call as short as possible or make plans to call the person back.

Don't hold meetings at your desk; use a conference room.

No one else has anything to do with your meeting. This is even more important to remember when talking about private things. Keep all of your meetings in the conference rooms or, if your office has them, in rooms that are just for meetings.

Meetings should end on time.

The same way that meetings need to start on time, they also need to end on time. Make sure you leave enough time for questions before you run out of the time you've set aside. You don't know what everyone else has planned for the rest of the day, but spending more than an hour in a meeting probably isn't one of them.

Pick up the phone and call back voicemails.

Set good standards for customer service and try to answer the phone within three rings as often as you can. If you miss a call for any reason, you should answer voicemails as soon as possible. A professional is always quick to answer.

Answer emails and instant messages.

Even though you may occasionally get "spam" emails, most of the emails and IMs you get are probably important. Try to answer as quickly as possible, or at least before the end of the day.

Don't just click "reply all."

It's great when an email goes out to the whole company praising a team's work on a project, but it's not so great when 100 people all hit reply to add their thoughts. Instead of sending your reply email to everyone, only send it to the people you need to.

Take care of your own mess.

The office is not your home, so no one will clean up after you here. This means that if you have a kitchen, you should wash your own dishes, throw away trash, and not leave your personal things all over the office. Keep the places where many people gather very clean.

Put your phone and computer on mute.

When email alerts are played loudly in a quiet office, they sound like nuclear alarms. So does the crazy frog sound on your phone. Do everyone a favour and completely turn them off.

Etiquette is becoming more gender neutral

When it comes to opening doors and getting on and off elevators in the office, the rules are becoming less about who is a man or a woman. The most important thing is to be polite and treat people you work with, with respect.

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