Office Etiquette 101

We have all worked with “that guy.” He’s an amicable colleague who regularly schedules back to back meetings, plays games and checks his email during meetings, and never replaces the coffee creamer.  Sure, his work is always done on time. So why does he frustrate everyone in the office? Considering social protocol, our colleague is an alright person. Despite similarities, office etiquette often varies with our social manners. Here are some tips to improve your company’s culture and colleagues lives.

Food. It might be acceptable in some social situations, but you should stick to your own food at work.  It seems like an obvious reminder, but according to studies performed in the United States and UK, 1 in 3 people (39%) have taken food from a colleague without asking. Studies also reveal the most commonly stolen item is milk (37%) and lunch/confectionary items (18%). While labeling and hiding items might prove successful for some, it is best to keep your food items to yourself.

Hygiene/Appearance. Although office fashion trends change, it is important to dress with respect and follow the office dress code. While some offices have relaxed standards, standards still exist and include avoiding revealing clothing, avoid wearing perfume, showering daily, and wearing deodorant. Your colleagues' work with you for eight or more hours a day. The least you can do is dress for success and bathe.

Manners. Your manners mean a great deal to everyone with whom you interact. Consider capping meetings at 45 minutes thus allowing ample time for checking emails, making calls, or eating a quick snack before your next meeting. During meetings, pay attention to the speaker and avoid multi-tasking, such as scrolling through emails, play games, and checking your phone. If the meeting becomes emotional, stay calm. Be mindful of your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Your words and actions send a message to your colleagues.

Ultimately, the worst choice you can make is to say nothing thus diminishing morale and productivity in the office. You should feel comfortable at work and able to concentrate and efficiently complete your assignments and projects without etiquette issues. If you must speak up, do so with compassion and kindness.