Modern office and workplace environments are a far cry from the environments your parents worked in. Smoking indoors was allowed and everyone had typewriters – not computers. While office life has certainly changed since then, there are still a number of office behavior and conduct guidelines that you should consider, from appropriate office attire to what you eat for lunch.
Respect Your Coworkers Personal Space
With co-working coming into limelight, many offices now feature open floor plans, with open cubicles and workstations, as well as group work areas. It can be difficult to maintain a certain level of privacy if you work in this type of environment, but it’s essential for everyone to be mindful of each other’s personal space. For example, if you need to visit another coworker in his or her cubicle, knock on the wall or announce yourself before entering the cube. Similarly, if you need to enter an office with a closed door, knock and wait for a response before opening it.
Keep Your Workspace Clean
You would never want your coworkers or clients to see your home in disarray, so you shouldn’t want them to see loose papers or bags of chips (and their crumby remnants) strewn about your cubicle or workstation. Keeping your personal workspace neat and clean is just as important as keeping yourself neat and clean for the office. And it is especially imperative for shared office spaces, since the same space will be used by others once you are done with your work and time slot.
What you wear to the office will depend on your specific job and the type of environment you work in. If you work in a design firm or some other highly creative atmosphere, your normal office wear might be jeans and a t-shirt. But, in general, having an office job means that you should dress the part. Oftentimes, dressing business casual (polos, slacks, socks, and shoes for men, for example) is perfectly fine, but it’s best to check with your employer if you have any question as to what dress code should be followed. Additionally, both men and women should keep well-maintained and professional hairstyles and always take steps to ensure that the rules of general hygiene (bathing or showering daily, keeping nails trimmed and/or manicured, etc.) are observed.
Be Considerate When it Comes to Smells & Scents
No matter how much you enjoy eating the cabbage and sausage from last night’s boiled dinner for lunch or love loading lots of raw onions on your sandwiches, it’s important to remember that certain smells and scents may affect your coworkers – or visiting clients – in adverse ways. Even microwaving something as seemingly scentless as broccoli can cause unpleasant aromas to permeate the office space. Similarly, perfumes and colognes should be worn sparingly, not only because they can be overpowering if used heavily, but also because some individuals in your office may have allergies that are triggered by smells. Additionally, burning candles, oils, or other scented items should be avoided.
Cell Phone Usage
Almost everyone has a smart phone these days and no doubt you have plenty of apps to check out, statuses to update, photos to post, friends and family to text. But, it’s probably best not to do those things during a meeting with your boss, coworkers, or clients. Unless your job requires you to have your phone by your side at all times to receive important phone calls and emails, leave the phone alone during meetings and other work-specific gatherings.
Consult Your Handbook
If you have doubts as to whether you are properly following the official code of conduct or rules of etiquette at your job, consult your handbook or ask your human resources manager or representative for clarification.