Workplace etiquette is an important part of your work environment. It refers to behaving in a sensible and appropriate manner for the workplace to leave a positive impression.
If you neglect it, you could harm your long-term career and your relationships with colleagues.
A lot of workplace etiquette is not written in black and white. However, it is assumed to be understood.
If you don’t know if something is appropriate it is good to ask someone.
Helpful tips to navigate unwritten workplace rules
- At work try to keep noise to a minimum. Being noisy will be distract your colleagues.
- Regular lateness or absence is viewed as unprofessional behaviour.
- Personal phones should be on silent mode.
- Do not take personal calls in the office. For necessary urgent calls move away from your workspace to take the call and keep it as brief as possible.
- Show respect towards all your colleagues. If you work in an open-plan environment you will likely be working with many different personalities, with different styles. Be tolerant of these differences.
- Listen to other people’s ideas and be tolerant of their opinions and experience levels.
- Minimise interruptions or interjections while others are speaking.
- Keep non-work conversations brief
- Avoid sharing personal or offensive information in general conversations.
- Have good body language. Do not slouch at the desk!
- Do not use abusive language or swear words at work (even if joking).
- Saying good morning or goodbye to colleagues is an expected workplace behaviour.
- Be respectful of your colleagues’ personal spaces.
- Do not eat meals at your desk: some smells can be offensive and overwhelming for others. In an open plan space, smells can be magnified.
- Personal hygiene is important. Always wear deodorant, clean clothes and brush your teeth.
- Avoid strong cologne or perfumes.
- Share work credit between colleagues and contribute to team success.
- Your work clothes must be appropriate for your work task or situation.
- People working nearby are not available for conversation at all times.
- Do not be negative or grumpy as this can affect the team’s mood and productivity.
- Focus on the positive things about your job. Do not talk negatively about your work.
- Responding to work emails and calendar invitations is good work practice.
- Be on time and prepared for meetings.
- Participate positively in team meetings.
- Never fall asleep in meetings – stand up or use a fidget toy if you are feeling sleepy.
- Where possible assist your teammates (it is a good idea to first ask if they need help).
- Do not make fun of colleagues. Think about your colleague’s positives rather than negatives.
- Always strive to complete your tasks on time and advise your manager if you are unable to meet a deadline.
- Do not leave work early without prior permission from your manager.
- Do not access personal emails, browse the internet or watch videos or games on your phone during work hours.
- It is not appropriate to challenge the manager’s decisions in an angry or disagreeable manner. It is okay to ask questions in a professional manner.
- Do not spend too long in the washroom as others may need to use the space.
- Never check someone else’s notepads, files or computer screen without their permission. You are expected to respect other people’s privacy
- Only have professional pictures and figurines on your desk.
- Keep your workstation clean and organised. Keep your desk clear of unnecessary paper, rubbish and food wrappings.
- Keep shared facilities clean. Do not leave your mess for others to clean up.
- Remember to tell someone if you are taking an unscheduled break.
End of Module Questions
- Considering the tips above, what are some of the behaviours of workplace etiquette that will be important in your unique work environment?
- What is the most appropriate way of dealing with a colleague if you notice them behaving in a manner that is outside general workplace etiquette?