It is general knowledge that once you start a new job it is polite to smile at co-workers in the morning and put deodorant on before you go into the office, but what are the other unspoken rules for the workplace?
Workplace etiquette has changed along with the times, and many people are now unclear about what is appropriate. So what behaviours should you avoid and what ones will win you brownie points with your colleagues?
1. Wear Earphones in the Elevator
Most people these days have to endure a staircase or ride in an elevator in order to make it to their office. There are always those who pop in their earphones or check their emails to make this trip more enjoyable, but what they don’t realise is that it is discouraging others from talking to them. This hermit behaviour may make you feel more comfortable, but it usually makes those around you feel less so. If you want you co-workers to like you, unplug and embrace the awkwardness of not knowing where to look when in an elevator!
2. Invade Someone’s Cubicle
If you work in an open office environment where people have cubicles, you will have noticed that most people tend to be very protective of ‘their area’ and even make an effort to mark it as ‘their space’ with photos, figurines or even incense sticks. If you want to make friends with your fellow cubicle workers then it is important to respect their area and, when possible, email them beforehand to let them know you will drop by. Whilst you may be a very open personality, do not assume that everyone else is and remember that it is always easier to reduce boundaries than it is to enlarge them.
1. Offer to get Co-workers a drink
Whether you are simply making a tea in the work kitchen or heading down to a café to grab a coffee, make sure you offer to take someone else’s order. Chances are that they will decline, but the act of offering will show others that you are a team player and open for friendship.
2. Synchronise Your Clocks
There is nothing more frustrating than having one of your co-workers perpetually arrive a couple of minutes late to every meeting. Whilst a couple of minutes may not seem like much time to you, it gives your colleague plenty of time to fume and get irritated with you. A tiny action like synchronising your computer and watch to the office time can prevent you from being the ‘annoying co-worker’, so why not do it?
If you do happen to accidently arrive late to an important meeting, or invade someone’s invisible cubicle space, do not ignore it but make light of the situation. Humour can usually redeem you and also act to break any awkward silences. If you are starting a new job, don’t stress about workplace etiquette, just try to be as friendly as possible and you will be well on your way to being accepted as part of the team.
If you are interested in learning more about etiquette in the workplace read Vicky Oliver’s book ‘301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions’.