By the KMA Consulting Team
Workplace etiquette may seem like some cryptic set of unwritten rules, especially for those early in their careers, and for remote workers without much experience in the actual workplace. But etiquette dos and don’ts at work are essentially common-sense principles and, like all manners, designed to make others feel comfortable, valued and respected.
As we navigate the new standards in our hybrid work world, where people of all generations are coming together post-covid, here are ten things to keep in mind when it comes to etiquette norms at work.
- Show up on time. Whether it’s starting your workday at a prescribed hour, or arriving for a meeting in person or virtually, being prompt shows that you are organized, attentive and respectful of others’ time.
- Respond thoughtfully and promptly. When receiving emails or other communications, aim to respond within 24 hours, or the next business day. Even if your response merely states that you need additional time to research an answer, letting the recipient know that you received the email and that you’re working on getting them what they need shows that you are reliable, and they don’t need to do anything further.
- Keep politics out of the workplace. You should be informed about current events and understand how they impact your company’s business, but it’s best to avoid discussing hot button topics – like politics – that are unrelated to work with co-workers.
- Keep your conversations professional. It’s fine to discuss weekend plans, or basic information about your personal life, but don’t overshare intimate details. Set your boundaries, and be ready to redirect if a conversation with a co-worker moves into uncomfortable territory.
- Develop friendly and professional work relationships. Sometimes work friends become true friends that you develop and nurture outside of work. This makes perfect sense since most people spend more of their waking hours at work than outside of work. However, in the workplace, keep it professional and don’t let personal relationships interfere with getting work done in a productive and timely manner. It is also important to interact in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable and included.
- Keep your workplace neat and professional. Feel free to bring in a photograph, plant or lamp to warm up your area, but don’t over-personalize it. Maintain a well-organized space, even if you’re not tidy by nature. Whether you work from home or from a business location, this will help you find the items you need when you need them. This goes for common areas like the kitchen, break rooms and conference rooms as well. Always clean up after yourself and be thoughtful of those you are sharing space with.
- Avoid gossip and drama. Whenever and wherever humans are in close proximity, drama can arise. Some people are just lightning rods for it. However, this kind of behavior is unproductive at best and can lead to a toxic culture and harassing behaviors at worst. Treat your co-workers with respect and kindness, and do not engage in conversations – in person or digital – that are gossip-driven, malicious or antagonistic in nature.
- Dress and conduct yourself like a professional. COVID adaptations and remote work have made workplace attire more casual, and many early career employees are unsure of what’s suitable to wear at work. Typically, if you work in a location where clients, partners and vendors are present, business or business casual attire is appropriate. Find out what is required by your organization and follow those guidelines. As for personal manners, three key behaviors to demonstrate your professionalism are: maintain good posture; look the person you are speaking with in the eye; and speak clearly, concisely and with confidence (even if you’re not).
- Share the spotlight. When collaborating on a project with others, make sure to acknowledge the efforts of your team members, and thank them in a public way whenever you have the opportunity. Managers will see that you are a supportive team player with strong leadership potential.
- Pause to think and seek advice before you act. If you’re unsure of the appropriate response or protocol for a situation at work, pause to think and seek advice before you act. The fact that you’re feeling uneasy about something is important to tune into; pay attention to your instincts and common sense. Ask a mentor who you trust for their advice – and make sure to thank them for their guidance.