Office Etiquette

Office Etiquette

07/2/14 James Winston

Many organizations are tearing down the walls and creating a more open workspace to encourage communication, collaboration, and increased efficiency. But with this modern concept, office etiquette becomes even more essential to ensure productivity, respect, and limited distractions.

Here are some tips:

1. Don’t barge into one’s workspace unannounced. Imagine invisible walls and treat co-workers as if they were behind closed doors. Knock on the inside of the cubicle wall/workspace or announce yourself by saying “knock, knock” or “is this a good time to interrupt?” Be respectful. Get permission before entering one’s workspace.

2. Don’t discuss private or confidential matters. It is very easy to be overheard and difficult to keep private information private. Have confidential or sensitive conversations in a private office or on your cell phone during a break away from the office.

3. Don’t shout to colleagues across the workspace. Walk over to the person you want to talk to, phone, or send an email. You may think you are multi-tasking, but let’s not forget our manners.

4. Be mindful of using the speakerphone. Holding a conference call, listening to music while on hold, or jotting down your recorded messages can be very annoying to others. Though convenient for you, using your speakerphone is disturbing to everyone else. Go to a conference room or other designated area or ask for a headset to make your job easier.

5. Don’t hold meetings in your workspace. Whether it is an internal or external meeting, find a private space to hold your meeting. Remember, if others weren’t invited, they shouldn’t feel like they are forced to attend.

6. Remember that you are on display. Keep your personal appearance and desk neat; you are in a fish bowl. If you have a lot of people walking through the office, especially outsiders, think about the impression that you are leaving by how you present yourself and your workspace.

7. Silence/minimize audio sounds. Whether it is on your computer, phone, radio, or other, be mindful of audio sounds. If you are listening to the radio or a webinar on the computer, wear ear buds. If your computer dings when you get an email, or instant message, mute/lower the volume. Try to pick up your office phone after one or two rings, while keeping the ring volume to a low setting. If you are going to be away from the office, set your phone to voicemail. And, if you keep your personal cell on your desk, place it on vibrate or silent. Do your neighbors a favor–silence your devices.

8. Don’t eat smelly or loud food. Many of us don’t have time to eat lunch away from the office and think that we are being efficient by eating at our desk. But if you are eating something that is pungent or a food that is so crunchy that everyone can hear every bite, it could be very distracting or uncomfortable for those around you.

9. Don’t hover over someone’s computer or phone conversation. Someone may not want you to see an email or a document that they are working on or want you to eavesdrop on their phone conversation. Be respectful and do not read anything that is not intended for your eyes or listen to anything not intended for your ears.

10. Don’t interrupt your co-workers. Don’t assume your co-worker is available to chat and ready for a break. We all are busy, have different responsibilities, deadlines, etc. Just because you are ready for a break, doesn’t mean your co-worker wants to join you.

11. Don’t go through someone’s desk or take things when they are not there. If you wouldn’t appreciate someone going through your desk or taking something without your knowledge, then don’t do that to a co-worker. This goes for work files and documents, as well as supplies. No one wants to return to their desk to find items missing. If you borrow something, leave a note so that they know you have it. Also, don’t “borrow” anything from anyone if you have a habit of “forgetting” to put it back.

12. Keep personal conversations to a minimum. If you have to take a personal call, keep it quiet and brief. If the call is going to take more than a couple minutes, step outside the workspace.

13. Don’t use hallways or open spaces for meetings or water cooler chat. Voices carry and too many impromptu chatter sessions can be disturbing to the workplace.

14. Save your fragrance for after hours. Perfume or cologne is a personal taste. Fragrances can be very disturbing to those around you, especially those who are very sensitive to smells or are allergic.

15. Don’t come to work if sick. If you are contagious, then stay home; remember, the sniffles don’t count. If you are unsure, consult a doctor or your supervisor.

16. Mind your voice. Be mindful of the loudness of your voice while on the phone or talking to a co-worker. If you have a habit of being loud, singing, or talking to yourself, remember you have an audience.

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