How Not to Annoy Your Coworkers (and other workplace etiquette tips)…

How Not to Annoy Your Coworkers (and other workplace etiquette tips)…

By: Abbas Virji | Special Projects Assistant
  13970 reads

Wherever you end up working this summer, there are generally some (unwritten) etiquette guidelines that you’ll want to abide by. That’s not to say showing up at 9:02AM instead of 9:00AM will get you canned on the first day, but do keep the following in mind, especially if it’s the first time you’re working in a workplace environment.

Keep it Professional

This is fairly broad advice, but it’s true for any organization. Even though summer is approaching, that’s not an excuse to dress overly casual. Flip-flops are a BIG no, even if it might be Hawaiian shirt day (hopefully you don’t have one of those either…). Jeans may be okay as long as it’s fine with your supervisor, but never, ever wear ripped jeans to work. Not only does it give the impression that you don’t care about your appearance, others can also perceive it as offensive, as this survey from ADECCO shows. Keep in mind though that everyone’s place of work has different standards for what’s appropriate – e.g. you probably wouldn’t want to dress up in a suit if you’re going to be working at a mechanic shop.

NO. Especially not these (courtesy: Knitty Cent. Image resized from original)

NO. Especially not these (courtesy: Knitty Cent. Image resized from original)

Use the Receiver

Given the tremendous rise in email usage over the past decade or so, this might seem like out-dated advice. There are occasions when you will need to use the telephone instead of email though, so keep this in mind: no one (hopefully) wants to hear your conversation. The speakerphone function may be a handy feature for multitasking, but it’s highly inconsiderate, especially if you’re working in an open-office environment. Instead, get a headset so you can multitask without bothering others.

Avoid Personal Phone Usage

As a new hire, you have to understand that you may be expected to abide by somewhat higher standards. This means – especially when you first start working at the organization – no using your personal phone, unless it’s extremely urgent (as in, an emergency, not texting your friends about a sale you just heard about). If you have to use your phone, do so during lunchtime, preferably outside the working space. And when you bring your phone into your workplace, PLEASE keep it on silent. You may love your Justin Bieber ringtone, but it’s probably not something that will fly with everyone. In addition, checking your personal social media accounts on company computers is not okay (unless you’re responsible for keeping their social media accounts updated). If getting reprimanded by your supervisor isn’t enough of a deterrent, consider that much of the personal information you’re accessing could potentially be saved on your company computer.

This is what happens when you don’t put your phone on ‘vibrate’
This is what happens when you don’t put your phone on ‘vibrate’

Please Don’t O.D (On Axe)

We all remember the horror of high-school corridors filled with, you guessed it, Axe. And guess what? That’s just as intolerable at your workplace as it was in school. Some individuals have very negative reactions to strong scents, so be considerate of the people around you. Your workplace may even be scent-free, in which case, you’ll have to go cold turkey on the scents. 

You don’t want to make people feel like this when they walk past you, do you?
You don’t want to make people feel like this when they walk past you, do you?

Don’t Be a Hoarder

Your working space says a lot about you. If others don’t know you too well, the cleanliness or dirtiness of your workspace may be a direct reflection of your personality, which would certainly not be the greatest first impression. Since you probably don’t want to be perceived negatively, keep your workspace free of clutter. It may be easier said than done, but prioritizing it as something you do for maybe the first 15 minutes of your workday, or before you leave for the day can really pay off. The last thing you want is a reality TV series that documents your untidy workspace…

Isolate Yourself

Are you feeling morbidly ill? Your next stop should probably be a walk-in clinic or the emergency room, not your place of work. In addition to making yourself worse by coming to the workplace, you also show disregard for the people you work with by coming in when ill. If it’s a light cold, it’s probably not a huge problem, but be mindful of your state. Sometimes even small colds can make you feel pretty bad, so there may be little point in you being at the office.

If you’re looking like this, it’s probably best not to come in… 
If you’re looking like this, it’s probably best not to come in…

 The Office is Not a TV Show

Okay, that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you probably get the reference: avoid workplace gossip. It may be entertaining, but there could be severe consequences that you never expected from seemingly harmless talk. This is especially true if you are new to the organization. Yes it’s nice to be able to trust your coworkers, but remember, listening in is just as bad as talking, so try to avoid it altogether.

Be a Fungus-Fighter

Office kitchens are great. You can keep things fresh, warm up cold food, make your own food… (okay maybe not that last part). But please, for the sanity of everyone around you, including yourself, please make sure you don’t leave food in the fridge for more than a day. Fungus can grow fast in these environments considering how frequently the door can be open and closed, so it could be ripe for fungus growth. Be a fungus fighter and don’t keep your food in the fridge for more than a day.

Just don’t take stuff out that isn’t yours… (courtesy: Ofer Wolberger via Getty Images)
Just don’t take stuff out that isn’t yours… (courtesy: Ofer Wolberger via Getty Images)

In Summary…

Hope you enjoyed reading this somewhat light read. Every work environment has a different vibe and culture, but these tips are fairly universal. Abide by them and you may be well on your way to success. Best of luck with your next opportunity!

  • Beyond the Article: Not guilty of any of the above but still feel like you might not have the best etiquette? Here are some more habits that will annoy your coworkers, via Inc.

*Lead image: creative-commons licensed photo by Tim Caynes. Image resized from original by blog author. 

Posted on April 25, 2014