When you think about it, we spend more time each week with our coworkers than we do our families. At a minimum of around eight hours a day we are in an enclosed space, working alongside team members who all have different personalities and quirks. And sometimes, these personalities and quirks can clash against unspoken office guidelines, often creating tension between employees.
And if you’re like me, speaking up and notifying these employees of their poor etiquette can be awkward. To help all you pacifists out there, we’ve created a workplace etiquette dos and don’ts list to pass around the office to help drop a few hints of what is deemed acceptable and what’s not. You’re welcome in advance:
Do: Come to Meetings on Time
There’s a saying my father taught me at a very early age, “If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time.” Does this adage work with quick daily meetings? Probably not. But whether you see it or not, there is nothing that says you don’t respect someone’s time like consistently showing up late to meetings (or bailing all together).
Everyone’s time is valuable, so making a conscious effort to be on time to meetings will not only keep your reputation strong, but it will let your coworkers see that you’re making an effort to respect them and their busy schedules.
Don’t: Use Profanity
This particular “don’t” really depends on your workplace and the culture, but it is worth noting that being profane can give off a negative vibe to some coworkers who may not feel comfortable with colorful language. In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder found that 81 percent of employers have doubts about the professionalism of those who curse at work. Take this into account, regardless of your company culture, the next time you see it fit to curse like a sailor in front of your coworkers.
Do: Use the Mute Button
Many conference call horror stories start off with “he forgot to mute himself…” Whether you’re on a conference call in a busy café, taking a quick bathroom break or gossiping about someone on the call, use the mute button. You’ll not only keep participants from being annoyed with loud background noises, but you’ll also save yourself from a potentially embarrassing moment.
Don’t: Groom Yourself
I can’t believe I even have to put this on here, but I know some people reading this have had a coworker who thinks it is completely appropriate to trim their nails, do their hair or do some other personal grooming at their desk. Please, please, please save any sort of grooming for your own home or the bathroom. No one wants to see nails flying across their cube while they’re on a phone call.
Do: Express Gratitude
You know what makes people smile? A simple “thank you” or “good job”. I think everyone should try and go out of their way to express some sort of gratitude to a team member who has helped out with a big project, or congratulate someone on a big sales win. This type of positivity can alleviate a lot of tension and stress in the workplace, and it’s a really great practice in general for both your professional and personal life!
Don’t: Take Personal Phone Calls at Your Desk (or the Bathroom, for that Matter)
I can guarantee this one is hitting a nerve with a majority of readers. No one wants to overhear your conversations about your sister’s fiancé’s affair or hear you disputing credit card charges while at your desk, and people especially do not want to hear these conversations in the bathroom. As an absolute rule of thumb, take personal calls away from your desk because it is not only disruptive, but it is inadvertently intrusive as well.
Do: Respect Different Work Styles
The great thing about working with a variety of different personalities is that you get to experience very different work styles. Everyone functions differently, some habits you might find really helpful and some you may think are bizarre. Regardless of how you feel, let your peers work the way they want to in order to be productive. Most importantly, take the time to learn how they function in the workplace.
Understand that some people may work best while using headphones to listen to music and some people may need to get up and move around to clear their heads. Whatever it takes, understanding your coworkers and their work styles can help you ultimately be a better, more efficient team.
When it boils down to it, the biggest key takeaway is simply respect. Respect each other’s space and work styles and maybe toss in a little common sense and you’ll be well on your way to being an employee that everyone enjoys having in the office.