Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Common Courtesy in the Modern Office

"Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you."
It might be thought by some that etiquette is "old school" formality, no longer relevant in modern society. However, living amongst people means that we need to adhere to certain standards of behavior in order to be able to get along with one another, and this is just as true in the workplace as it is anywhere else. There’s plenty of room for individual expression, but there are still certain standards. Here’s a quick guide to how to handle yourself in the workplace.

Keep the Noise Down

Today, most offices are created on the "open plan" concept. This means that there are no offices, and even, most of the time, no cubicles. No one has a door they can close when they need to be able to concentrate without distractions. Try to avoid loud conversations – if you or a co-worker has a tendency to get overly enthusiastic while conversing, take it elsewhere. Even the most open office usually has a meeting room. If there’s no meeting room, take it outside the building.

If you bring a personal cell phone to work, keep it on vibrate and return calls when you’re on break or at lunch. No one wants to hear you sitting at your workstation, exchanging sweet nothings with your significant other, or arguing with your kids. If you absolutely have to take a personal call, go investigate that meeting room, or at least move to a less crowded area. When on business calls, use a handset or headset, never your speakerphone.

Be on Time

If you have an appointment, whether it’s with a client, supplier, or co-worker, be punctual. When you’re late, it’s as if you’re saying to the person you’re meeting with “my time is important but yours is of no consequence.” Simply stated, being late is rude.

Speak Politely

Greet people when you come in to work. Just heading off to your desk without a word implies that you don’t consider your workmates to be worth the moment or two that it takes to exchange greetings. Remember that saying “please” and “thank you” also doesn’t take much effort. And please, even in this day and age when you hear profanity everywhere, don’t use it at work. It’s unprofessional, and some people are still offended by it. Simply put, speak to others the way that you would like to be spoken to.

Observe the Dress Code

Most places of business have a dress code, even if it’s not actually formally defined. If you’re in doubt, look at your co-workers and take your cue from them. Even in office environments where the standards are very relaxed, a few things go without saying – no revealing or low-cut clothing, and make sure that your clothes are clean. Work is also not the place to wear t-shirts bearing controversial images or slogans.

Don’t Interrupt

Your time is not more important than anyone else’s, so if there’s something you need but a co-worker is otherwise engaged, wait your turn. If they’re on the phone, leave a note instead of hovering. If they’re talking with another co-worker, it’s OK to wait for a gap in the conversation to let them know you’d like to see them when they have time.

If You Want to Borrow Something, Ask!

It doesn’t really matter how well you know a co-worker, you don’t have the right to borrow things from their work area without asking. If you show a lack of respect for others’ workspaces, you can’t very well become upset when they do the same with yours. Ask before you borrow, and return whatever your borrowed in the same condition in which you received it. This is particularly important with items like office chairs that people adjust to suit their own needs and preferences.


That’s basic office etiquette. Just remember, it’s mainly about treating people the way you’d like to be treated.

OCOS Web Developer

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