You put in the hours, meet deadlines, and are cordial with your coworkers. But is that enough for you to be a good employee?
According to Wikipedia, workplace etiquette is “a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace. This code is put in place to “respect and protect time, people, and processes.”
Now of course, every office has its own way of running the show, but some things stay classic. Even in places where the work culture is chill and casual, these are the rules you need to remember to be a respected professional (and not be considered a social pariah):
1. Respect personal boundaries
Every individual has certain boundaries, and how you deal with them can strengthen or sour your relationship with that person. Take the case of personal space. While one person may love getting hugs, another might feel really uncomfortable.
Boundaries vary from person to person, and the list of do’s and don’ts can get unnervingly long. To keep it simple, observe the girl or guy to get an idea of their personal code, and follow it. That’s the best way to ensure you never cross over from friendly to plain inappropriate.
2. Keep your conversations clean
Work can be a great place to make friends and have lively conversations, but some topics can only stir trouble. Dirty or racist jokes, personal problems, opinions on issues like religion, politics, sexual orientation, even your boss – subjects like these are best left out of the office. This doesn’t make you a boring stiff, it only makes you a responsible professional. And if at times you do have to state your opinion, make sure you do it tastefully.
3. Flirt with caution
We all know that office romances are best avoided. However, since we spend so many hours at work, it is a natural setting for casual flings and serious relationships. Since flirting is how things get started, it’s important to understand that there is a fine line between flirting and sexual harassment.
As a thumb rule, flirt only when you are positive it is welcome. The safest option is to explicitly ask him or her whether they are fine with this. You might feel dorky, but isn’t that so much better than hitting on somebody who is not even remotely interested?
4. Follow the dress code
Okay, I know most offices today—particularly startups—do not really expect their employees to dress formally. But how casual is too casual? Self-expression is important, but wearing revealing or inappropriate clothes can cause serious damage to your professional image. Even if no one upbraids you for your clothing choices, you are probably making a bad impression on the upper management and discomfiting your coworkers.
5. Use your phone occasionally
Yes, smartphones are addictive and it’s hard not to use them when you are bored or distracted. An easy way to limit usage is to turn off your mobile data, keep your phone on silent, and put it away in your drawer. The urge to use it will be lesser once it’s out of sight.
Bonus: Keeping it on silent will not disturb your co-workers and will prevent them from cursing you. Also, make sure you don’t text while talking to someone – it has become a common occurrence, but that doesn’t mean it is not rude.
Which rules do your coworkers break and which ones do they follow? Let me know in the comments below.