Workplace Etiquette

Workplace etiquette is something many employees misunderstand. Is there really a set of rules to follow when it comes to behaving in a cubicle or when writing an email? Let’s review some common occurrences that employees may overlook in the workplace.

General Etiquette –
Everyone knows their workplace is a place of business…but they also want it to be a place where they enjoy being for 8 or more hours a day. Following some simple etiquette rules can make the workplace more pleasant.

Let’s look at some basic office etiquette….

  • Be respectful of co-workers.
    • Get to know them by name
    • Say good morning
    • Don’t wear clothing or badges/buttons that could be considered offensive
    • Don’t tell jokes/stories that are religious, cultural, political or sexual in nature
  • Comply with company grooming standards.
  • Obey the chain-of-command.
  • Mind your own business; keep opinions to yourself unless asked.
  • Odors – be mindful of co-workers concerns – don’t wear fragrances if they have allergies.
  • Don’t participate in gossip sessions. Avoid spreading rumors.
  • Don’t share information with those who really don’t need to know.
  • Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

Cubicle Etiquette –
A cubicle doesn’t offer the most private work environment; and though they are usually open, they are still individual office spaces where employees need consideration to perform their job. It can be difficult to concentrate when you’re surrounded by co-workers who are hanging around your cubicle or your neighbor’s cubicle, and trying to discuss business over the phone can be frustrating when there is too much background noise.

So let’s show some appreciation for the cubicle worker by following some basic cubicle etiquette…

  • Respect Privacy – don’t enter a co-workers’ cubicle without permission.
  • Personal Note – don’t discuss personal issues in the cubicle or on the phone. Go someplace private.
  • Office Supplies – don’t “shop lift” supplies from your co-worker.
  • Loitering – don’t hang around a cubicle. If the individual is busy, come back another time.
  • Spying – don’t peek over a cubicle – spying or eavesdropping is never welcome.
  • Noise Level – this is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in a cubicle environment. Try the below tips…
    • answer your phone within two rings
    • don’t use your speakerphone and use your indoor voice
    • adjust the phone volume
    • use a headset
    • turn off or forward your phone when you’re away
    • don’t try to speak through cubicle walls
    • meet with clients in a conference room
    • don’t play radios or keep the volume low or use headphones/earplugs
  • Odors
    • try to eat in the breakroom to avoid food smells in the cubicle area
    • be sensitive to your coworkers when it comes to fragrances; perfumes/colognes/air fresheners/flowers, etc.
  • Decorating – be cautious of religious, cultural, political or sexual decor that may be deemed offensive.
  • Illness – don’t come to work sick. Just because you’re in a cubicle doesn’t mean germs won’t spread.
  • Keep your cubicle neat and tidy – and DO NOT leave confidential information lying around.

Email/Texting Etiquette –
Email and texting has become engrained in the workplace. It is a quick way to respond to co-workers and clients, but there are ways to properly communicate using these methods of communication.

Avoid embarrassment and/or discipline by following these tips…

  • Don’t email/text in all caps. This may be ok in the body of the message if you’re trying to emphasize a specific point.
  • Be in the right state of mind. Never send an email/text when you are emotional (upset, angry, sad, etc.)
  • Be concise. Keep your inquiry or reply short and to the point. Only discuss what needs to be discussed.
  • Only send, reply or forward to those who need to be in the loop. Be careful on this one – the “Reply All” or group text option has hampered many responses.
  • Know your audience. No one likes their name to be misspelled or be referred to by the wrong pronoun.
  • Know when to send an email/text and when to speak in person. Sensitive information should be relayed face-to-face.
  • Limit the use of icons/emojis. Don’t think everyone will understand their meaning the way you intended.
  • Avoid abbreviations unless you are certain everyone in the conversation knows what they mean.
  • Be careful of attachments. Some systems are limited in the size of the attachments they can receive.

Warehouse Etiquette –
Most people don’t think of the warehouse environment when they think about etiquette rules, but there are simple etiquette guidelines to follow even in a warehouse.

Warehouses can be full of hazards and accidents waiting to happen.

Avoid accidents by…

  • Safety First!
    • always use required PPE (personal protection equipment)
    • be aware of your surroundings; watch for moving equipment such as pallet jacks and forklifts
    • be careful around stacked product
    • follow safety protocol when transporting product through the space; rope off areas if required
    • watch out for your co-workers; if you see them doing something unsafe, stop them immediately
  • Keep it Clean
    • keep your workspace clean & organized
    • avoid slips & falls by cleaning up spills
    • avoid clutter by putting tools away and throwing rags or garbage in the correct bin
  • Stay Organized
    • follow policies & processes
    • keep checklists to help stay accurate and ensure tasks get accomplished
    • listen to co-workers – they may have ideas or suggestions that could fine tune a process

There are many more etiquette rules for the workplace. The above lists are just some of the quick, easy tips to remember to help make your time spent at work more pleasant and safe. They are not strict rules, just common courtesy.


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