Working in an office has its pros and cons.
Some of the cons are: having to sit at a desk in front of a computer all day, being stuck indoors when you might want to be outdoors, and general boredom and monotony from the same schedule and same activities day-in-and-day-out.
The pros, though, are: you get pretty predictable work hours, you don’t have to do manual labor, and you get sheltered from extreme temperatures (although office temperatures can sometimes have their own extremes!).
And then there’s the topic of office etiquette or certain acceptable and unacceptable things to do in an office setting. Since an office is an enclosed space where everyone has to work together in harmony, if someone breaks a common rule of office etiquette…things can go really bad really fast for nearby coworkers.
Don’t be that coworker – understand and remember these 11 office etiquette rules that everyone should know:
1. Don’t take your shoes off
Don’t take your shoes off in a shared office space. Even if your feet don’t stink (trust us, they do), shoes are considered a staple in your professional wardrobe and it’s simply not okay to slip them on and off as you please. We’ll leave these tips here, too: don’t clean your ears, clip your fingernails or toenails, or floss your teeth in the office either. If you must, step into the restroom first.
2. Don’t reheat fish (or other really smelly foods) in the microwave
Actually, the most courteous thing you can do is eat your lunch in the break room rather than at your desk. But if you must work through lunch, choose something that is less likely to cause stomachs to church – like a sandwich, salad, pasta or chips.
3. Don’t come to work sick
There’s little worse than sitting next to somebody who’s coughing, sneezing, passing gas, or blowing their nose all day. If you’re sick enough to gross a coworker out, work from home if it’s an option or take the day off to rest and recuperate.
4. Don’t forget that everybody works differently
The most social person in the office often says, “I work best when I can talk and work!” That’s great – but the real question is, Can your coworkers work productively when you’re interrupting their workflow? Very few people work best when surrounded by constant conversation unrelated to their work. Don’t monopolize the time of your coworkers just because it works for you.
5. Don’t forget about personal hygiene
Shower daily, brush your teeth, wear clean clothes, and avoid strong-smelling essential oils, diffusers, performs, and lotions. Big smells in small places can cause allergic – and visceral – responses.
6. Don’t treat your coworker’s desk like the supply closet
If you need more staples, go to the supply closet or storeroom rather than grabbing what you need from a coworker’s supplies. It’s just courteous.
7. Don’t overshare
While you might be especially close to one coworker, all those within earshot may not want to know about the fight you had with your spouse this morning, the results of your annual checkup, or the itchy rash you found on the bottom of your foot this morning. Keep conversations in shared workspaces professional and save personal conversations for after hours, unless you know for sure that it’s an OK topic for the person or people around you.
8. Don’t flaunt your lack of productivity
The only thing worse than wasting company time is wasting company time in front of people who are overloaded. Don’t browse Facebook, video chat, play Candy Crush, or balance your checkbook at work while your coworkers put in overtime to meet a deadline. Use your time wisely and be sensitive to the needs of the team.
9. Don’t move in
Keep your workspace clean, tidy, and professional. While you may choose to keep a stick of deodorant or some chapstick in your desk drawer, your workspace shouldn’t look like a bomb went off (and it shouldn’t look like home, scattered with cosmetics, nail clippers, photos, personal mail, every Christmas card you received in the last six years, etc.).
10. Don’t mess with the thermostat
Wear an extra layer if you often get cold or wear light, cool clothing if you overheat easily. Don’t expect everybody else to adjust to the temperature that’s comfortable for you.
11. Do be kind
Be open to the perspectives of others, including any feedback they provide you, forgive easily, and think twice before judging your teammates. Always be willing to help. A positive working environment is a key to your own satisfaction at work.