Workplace etiquette can have a significant impact on your professional life and career progression. How you present yourself professionally speaks volumes and has an impact on how others perceive you. Co-workers and management might form an impression of you within the first couple of minutes so it’s important to ensure you present yourself as a professional.
It is important to notice how important it is for you to understand your work environment. It can be difficult to discern at first the values, the culture, the policies, and procedures but there’s nothing wrong in asking if you have questions.
In this article we will outline some of the key aspects of work etiquette so you have a better idea of the do’s and dont's.
Communication is a big part of the work environment and therefore a very important part of workplace etiquette. This includes not just what you say but how you say it.
Learning names quickly is a skill and when joining a new team is very important. When meeting a client or someone new in a work environment, make sure to remember their name and introduce yourself in a professional matter. This will help with first impressions.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure about something. When starting a new role or job, it can be daunting so it’s important to clarify and avoid misunderstandings. This demonstrates interest, passion to learn and builds communication skills.
Communicating with the right attitude can also help. The above and below the line represent two opposite attitudes. Operating above the line is positive and open. It’s about growing and learning, being able to take accountability and responsibility. On the other side, below the line is negative behaviour with denial and defensiveness. Being above the line is the attitude goal and mindset and will have a big impact on your professional life.
When sending emails be mindful that online communication is a permanent record of communication. Although some workplaces may embrace the use of relaxed conversation and the use of emojis, most workplaces expect a level of formality and professionalism. If you are in doubt always communicate professionally in work emails.
Extra tip: Ensure all external emails are written in a professional manor.
It’s important to remember that networking within your own company is not only helpful in building stakeholder relationships and developing your work, but also its good etiquette to take the time to talk to your co-workers and get to know them.
Attending meetings can easily be the most intimidating part of starting a new job or position. If the meeting is in someone’s office, don’t arrive more than five minutes early as they might be in another meeting or prepping for the one with you. Also do not arrive late. If for some reason you are going to be late, let the meeting organiser know.
Always be on time. By being repeatedly late, you may look discourteous and may send a message to your co-workers that your time is more valuable than theirs. Always give yourself more time in case something happens such as a traffic jam or a meeting taking longer than expected. Being late can result in warnings and dismissals.
This depends on a lot of the type of workplace and the particular company culture. On your first day its always a good idea to dress to impress. Most offices are considered “business casual” which means you don’t have to dress formal but still keep it professional. If you meet clients and prospective clients regularly, you will be required to dress in more formal business attire. Your employee handbook should have more information on your company dress-code policy.
For you own workspace:
Keep the space professional and neat but don’t be afraid to add some personal touches (for example calendars and photos)
Regardless of if you work in an open office or a cubicle, be mindful and respectful of other people’s space
If someone is in a phone call, don’t interrupt as it could be an important meeting
Limit personal calls (and if you can, take them in a space where you can have some privacy)
You can talk about your weekend if asked, but keep your emotions and private life separated from your work life.
Don’t ask others to share their personal lives with you. This makes many people uncomfortable in the workspace, especially if you haven’t built a personal relationship/ friendship with them
Put away your phone: some companies have a no mobile phone at desks policy, this can be found in your employer handbook.
Don’t gossip about your co-workers nor your boss. Gossip will portray you as someone who isn’t a team player or someone who can’t be trusted. How you treat people tells a lot about your personally so try and not make judgements on your workplace or speak negatively about anyone.
Read your Employee Handbook: all the information on your company and policies can be found in your employee handbook
It’s not what you say, but how you say it that counts
Don’t interrupt someone when they are speaking. Let them finish first.
Try to return phone calls and emails within 24 hours: always follow standards set by the company
Always ask before putting someone on speakerphone
Double check your email for grammar and spelling errors
Disclaimer: This bit of advice will depend on the specifics of your workplace. Please check your employee handbook.