A guide to good office etiquette

Whether you’re straight out of school, University, moved to the UK from abroad or simply not sure about what to do or say in an office environment, we have compiled a little guide of office do’s and don’ts. Hopefully these tips will help you make a good impression:

Do always assume people are listening

Even if you are talking to someone that you feel very comfortable with, can you be sure that nobody else is listening in? You may accidentally offend someone or say something that gets repeated to the wrong person and the same applies to online activity – don’t ever talk negatively about colleagues or your employer on social media or your blog. Remember, whatever you post can and probably will come back to haunt you.

Discuss your salary

In the workplace it all begins and ends with money and there’s a distinct possibility that you won’t be earning the same salary as someone else.

NEVER discuss how much you’re paid.  It’s not respectful to discuss how much you’re earning and you don’t want to offend anyone that’s being paid less than you.

Be careful who you address your emails too

Ok we’ve probably all done it, written a text/email about someone, then accidentally sent it straight to them instead of the intended recipient? The same applies in the office, be careful who you address your emails too, also when replying to all ask yourself if everyone on the list needs to receive the email and always check before you press send!

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Offer to make drinks for everyone

It’s polite to ask everyone if they’d like a drink, however, this can lead to a long list of beverages that you’ll need to make. You’ll have to remember who likes milk, who wants sugar who drinks tea and who has coffee – have a notepad handy!

A good idea is to suggest that everyone write their preferred beverage on a notice board by the kettle, so that you only need to remember who’s ready for their next hot drink. And if you decide not to make drinks for everyone, make sure that you never accept the offer when it’s someone else’s turn!

No smoking

Smoking indoors has been illegal since 2007, but using e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’, is allowed in public places. Most workplaces will have their own rules about electronic cigarettes, but even if yours doesn’t mention them specifically, it’s wise to go outside for your vaping. Many people simply aren’t comfortable with having e-cigarettes used in their presence and the verdict is still out on any potential health risks too.

Don’t change the temperature without asking

In reality it is likely you’ll be sharing an office with a few other people, some of whom will wish they worked in the Sahara or the Arctic!  Don’t upset anyone by opening a window without asking, or making unscheduled changes to the air conditioning settings.

Turn up to work with layers of clothing to cover every eventuality, just in case someone else makes a change that you don’t want to openly complain about.

Do mind your language

Swearing in the office is simply unacceptable, remember using bad language could lead to warnings and/or disciplinary action.

What not to eat at your desk

Fish products are a no-no in the office environment, along with eggs, fast food and stinky cheese… you get the picture… Remember you don’t want to risk your business relationship with someone over bad food choices, if in doubt about a specific food, leave it at home and opt for something you are sure won’t offend others.

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Don’t take an extended lunch break

Most offices are strict on time-keeping, which means they’ll notice if you turn up a bit late, leave a bit early or take a few extra minutes on your lunch break. Your manager might also be adding up the minutes, with a very clear picture of how many hours you miss each year.

In the end it all comes down to common sense, remember being comfortable at work is great, but you should still think carefully about everything you say and do.

If you need help or guidance with office etiquette please do get in touch, HR Revolution are here to help: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

HR Blogger

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