Workplace Etiquette

June 1, 2021 ProgressionHR

Etiquette for the modern workplace – What you need to know.

Some might recall the days when you’d walk into an office and see people puffing away on cigarettes – without a care in the world. All dressed in formal attire, ties, suits, no skin showing.

Like every aspect of life, workplaces have evolved.

Open plan offices, ergonomic furniture, casual dress, flexible hours, wellness programmes and shiny coffee machines are now standard in many workplaces.

Although work environments have become more people-friendly, the way we interact with our colleagues is still important.

What is office etiquette?

In simple terms, think of office etiquette as basic manners but adapted for a business setting. When followed, good office etiquette can help create a better culture. When ignored, something as simple as not cleaning your dirty lunch dishes can cause mayhem!

Etiquette 101 – a few tips to keep you in the good books…

Gossing about co-workers?

It can be tempting but don’t do it. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. You’ll lose respect and come across as someone who can’t be trusted.

Be a tidy Kiwi

Warning – this drives people crazy! You may be used to a mess at home, but at work, it’s important to keep your workspace and areas such as the kitchen and bathroom tidy.

Turn down the volume!

A loud co-worker can disturb the peace in a shared office. Be mindful of talking too loud or sneezing too loud (you know who you are!) Background music – both volume and selection is also something to be aware of.

Under the weather?

In the post-COVID office, there is no place for coming in sick. From a health perspective, you risk spreading your illness to others. And nobody wants to come in contact with a sniffling, coughing colleague.

We’ve also had some thoughts about email…

Use a clear subject line.

Don’t be vague – make sure your recipient knows exactly what the email is about. For example – Strategy Meeting this Wed 2pm rather than Can we talk through some stuff.

Use standard fonts and formats.

Don’t get creative. Stick with basic, easy-to-read fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. Avoid italics where possible, and make sure your font size isn’t too small or big – 11-12 is ideal.

‘Reply all’ to email chains?

Carefully consider whether or not all of the parties who received the initial email need to be included in your reply. In most cases, they don’t.

Proofread please.

Business communication should be professional, so make sure you take some time to proof your emails for spelling, grammar and other mistakes.

Working from home? Don’t be a potato head!

When COVID lockdowns turned our homes into an office, Zoom became our ‘go-to’ meeting tool. And with it came a bunch of hilarious fails, as office etiquette went out the window.

People were falling asleep mid-meeting. There were streams of photobombing kids, partners and pets. Or what about the boss who turned herself into a potato head avatar and couldn’t change it back.

You have to giggle at these embarrassing moments – but honestly, they’re best avoided!

We’ve put together a few basics to stop you from going viral…

The no pyjamas rule.

Taking a Zoom call in your pyjamas is not okay! A suit and tie are probably too much as well. Just be professional and dress like you would in a regular meeting.

Clear the clutter.

Busy Zoom backgrounds can be so distracting! Best bet – find a place at home that’s uncluttered. Or pick one of the non-descript backgrounds that Zoom have on file.

Mute the mower.

Your workmates don’t want to hear your neighbour mowing the lawn. Or kids arguing. Or dog barking. Simple tip – mute your microphone until you’re ready or asked to speak – it limits distractions and makes for a much better meeting.

Etiquette in a nutshell – use your common sense.

It’s pretty simple really – stay respectful of others, respect the workspace, maintain professionalism and use technology appropriately. Your co-workers will thank you for it.


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