Top Tips for Office Etiquette

This post was contributed by Patricia Napolitano, Promotions & Special Events Coordinator for 4CTechnologies.


While we here at the 4C office are fortunate to enjoy a considerably relaxed office atmosphere, there is still much more each of us can work on to make sure that we are not offending others.  We should all treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated . . . with dignity and respect.  But exactly what is “office etiquette?”  You might think that using etiquette in the office makes for an uncomfortable, stiff or even formal atmosphere; it is really just a matter of common sense. R – E – S – P – E – C – T.  When you respect others, they will in turn respect you.  You are also more likely to be viewed in a favorable way and be supported by those around you.

We (shouldn’t) need an actual handbook about office etiquette and nothing is “written in stone,” but there is no excuse for lack of respect for one another. So, for those that may need a little guidance here are a few good points to keep in mind.

Don’t Be Loud.  For those without an office door to close, which pertains to many of us, don’t be loud. Some people may not realize how inadvertently loud they can be during the course of a conversation.  However, don’t assume that closed doors are complete sound barriers. If you are yelling, more than likely people beyond the door can hear you.  If you receive a call on your cell phone, a good idea would be to take a walk down the hallway or find a room with a door that you can shut to take the rest of the call.  This will minimize the possible distraction that the call may be to coworkers.  This is especially recommended if it’s a personal call or one that may take some time.  Try to be particularly quiet in areas where coworkers are holding business calls or are in conversation with other coworkers regarding business activities.  Try not to engage in long conversations in shared office space.  If a particular topic requires more than a few minutes, utilize a conference room to avoid distracting co-workers. Be considerate around meeting rooms and the front reception area as well.  Play it safe and assume that there is a meeting in progress.  If you listen to a radio or stream music, its best to keep it low or wear a headset.

Interruptions.  If someone is busy on the phone or in a conversation with others, don’t interrupt and don’t linger. The best options are to simply motion that you need them for a minute, leave a quick note in front of them, or ask them to call/see you when they are done.  An internal messaging platform (at 4CTechnologies we utilize Lotus Notes’ Sametime) could be a “best-practice” here, because it allows them to get back to you promptly, but when it is convenient for them.

Say Please / Thank You.  A few nice words can go a long way, and the way you ask for something is nearly as important as what you say.  Be respectful enough to ask for things courteously, and to show your appreciation when they give it to you. Enough said.

Watch Your Language.  Seriously . . . we are not in a locker room or at the local bar.  Though we can all agree that workplace attitudes range from uptight corporate to completely casual jeans and T’s, foul language is always unprofessional and offensive.  We all have those moments where anger or frustration causes us to have something roll off of our tongue, but it should be kept to a minimum if at all possible.   Even if you think your coworkers are all fine with your language,  you never know who is on the phone with a client, or who has a client in to visit.  Be on the safe side, and clean up your language so that it is appropriate for anyone who may be listening.

Dress Code.  Most offices have formal or semi-formal dress codes.  Some dictate that if you are not directly interfacing with a client you may dress more casually.  But that being said, dressing conservatively is a best practice due to spontaneous clients visiting. And at ALL TIMES, do refrain from wearing provocative clothing and inappropriate clothing altogether.  What you wear should never be a distraction to others. All this makes for a more professional feeling to the workplace.

General Housekeeping.   We never know when we may have visitors, clients, etc. within the office.  For those of you here at the office every day, please try to keep your cubicle clean and orderly.  Also, try not to leave a mess in other areas especially on a co-worker’s desk.  Other common areas like the front office/reception area, the supplies area and/or conference rooms should also be clutter free.  We are extremely lucky to have a kitchen area and keeping it clean is important. It’s actually just a few simple rules:  Coffee – ALWAYS start a new pot when you take the last cup or when there’s less than a full cup left in the pot.  Always be sure to clean up after yourself. If you spill it, wipe it clean. If you drop it, pick it up. If you use a dish, clean it and put it back.

Remember… R – E – S – P – E – C – T!

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