While every workplace has its own culture and norms, there are certain rules of workplace etiquette that apply just about anywhere you go. Keep these office etiquette tips in mind to make sure you’re never “that” employee.
1. Give a firm handshake
You should already know how important first impressions are, and your handshake is a big part of presenting yourself as confident and professional. Use a firm handshake that is neither too aggressive nor too soft. Remember that a good handshake is all about connecting with the other person, so use good body language like standing up and making eye contact when shaking hands.
2. Dress appropriately
Dressing appropriately can mean different things depending on your job. Even if your job does not have a dress code, having self-awareness of what’s appropriate for your environment is a big part of good workplace etiquette. For example, if you work in a particularly professional environment, you should dress to match that. Take cues from your colleagues and leadership team. And no matter how much you love casual Friday, be careful not to push it too far.
3. Put your cell phone away
Using a cell phone during meetings is a major pet peeve for many people, not to mention making you appear distracted and inconsiderate. As a general rule, put your cell phone away while at work. If you do need to take a personal call, step away from your desk so you don’t distract your neighbors.
4. Stay professional outside the office
Leaving the office walls doesn’t mean that all rules of professionalism end. What you do outside the office can still impact your career and the other people you share that space with. Engaging in office gossip and partying on the weekend can come back to haunt you Monday morning. Remember that everything you post on social media reflects you both personally and professionally.
5. Keep your desk clean
With open office environments becoming the norm, personal workspaces are more public than ever. Even if you have a cubicle or office, it’s good to be mindful of your co-workers when it comes to maintaining that space. Keep messes to a minimum, especially if the mess involves food. And don’t forget the impact that odors can have on others. Throw away any trash that may begin to smell in a more appropriate area, like a kitchen, and avoid using any overly fragrant lotions, candles or diffusers.
6. Don’t come to work sick
No list of work etiquette tips would be complete without talking about germs. Staying healthy is key to maintaining office productivity for everyone, and anti-bacterial wipes can only take you so far. If you’re sick and contagious, the best way to respect your co-workers is to stay home and help avoid spreading your illness to another person. They’ll thank you later.
7. Don’t call people about work on the weekend
From time to time you may need to catch up on some work over the weekend. If you do, remember that not everyone may be doing the same. Everyone has a personal life and they are entitled to enjoy that time. Respect your co-workers by waiting until the workweek begins for work related matters.
8. Show respect to co-workers
Everyone has different work styles, as well as personal lives and concerns outside of work. All of this can impact how they approach their job and their workplace relationships. Take this into consideration as you establish professional relationships. Give everyone a little space to do their own thing, and never make assumptions about what people want or need.
9. Stay professional during lunch
Proper workplace etiquette doesn’t take a lunch break. Socializing with co-workers on your lunch break is a good way to build workplace relationships, but it’s important to keep a level of professionalism during that time. As a rule of thumb, avoid taking others out to lunch. It can show favoritism and make others feel left out, which can impact professional relationships.
10. Be on time to meetings
Punctuality is a big part of proper etiquette on the job. When you’re invited to a meeting, arrive on time and ready to participate. Meetings are scheduled based on the priorities and availability of every invitee, so arriving on time is a basic courtesy you should extend to your colleagues.