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What Should I Know About Office Etiquette?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Office etiquette is a set of rules of conduct which are designed to make working in an office more enjoyable and productive. It is distinct from business etiquette, the code of conduct which applies to business relationships and doing business professionally. Knowing how to write a business letter is business etiquette, for example, while opening a door for a heavily-laden coworker is office etiquette. As a general rule, people who want to get ahead in the world of work need to be familiar with both business and office etiquette.

Like other types of etiquette, office etiquette is grounded in good manners, and it is designed to keep people comfortable and happy in the office environment. The ground rule of office etiquette is that people should behave as they expect others to behave, and be mindful of the way they interact with others, and of the impact of various activities on coworkers. People who are courteous, polite, and thoughtful in an office environment will tend to be valued as employees and coworkers.

Many of the rules of office etiquette revolve around making the physical environment of the office pleasant. People are expected to avoid strong scents, which includes perfumes and foods, and they should clean up after themselves, whether they are preparing a cup of tea in the kitchen or pasting together a presentation. Keeping one's work space neat and clean is viewed as part of office etiquette, as is keeping messes in office kitchens and bathrooms under control.

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Volume awareness is also important in many offices. People need to talk softly to each other and on the phone in the office to avoid creating a very noisy and stressful environment, and office workers are also usually encouraged to keep their cell phones off or on vibrate, and to keep the volume settings on office phones well. People who like to listen to music while they work will definitely earn points with their coworkers by wearing headphones to keep their music to themselves.

Interactions with coworkers are a regular part of office work, and a huge part of office etiquette. Staying on task and avoiding gossip, office politics, and personal conversations is considered polite office etiquette, as is offering to do things for coworkers and asking for permission before borrowing things, entering someone's workspace, or asking for advice or assistance with a work-related task.

Professionalism goes a long way in an office environment. Many offices have dress codes, and those which do not still expect employees to dress neatly and professionally to project a positive image. Employees are also encouraged to leave personal business at home, and to avoid doing personal business on company time.

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Discuss this Article

anon323000
Post 3

I am concentrating on what is being said by the person I am speaking with on a business call. My manager comes in and distracts me from the call to tell me that she is going to take a "bio break". With that interruption, I have to ask my question again of the person on the phone.

Am I wrong when I think that the interruption was inconsiderate and untimely? Has the nature of the business world come "instant messaging in person" a point of have to have attention now, without consideration?

Bhutan
Post 2

Sunny27- I agree with you that it does show a certain level of disrespect to your co-workers and supervisor when you don’t adhere to the dress code of a company.

But for me I feel that not encouraging office gossip displays proper office etiquette. Because etiquette is really a special set of manners that is really meant to make people more comfortable.

Deciding to walk away from any form of office gossip lets everyone know that you will not speak ill of them behind their back which gives people a sense of reassurance that proper etiquette is supposed to display.

Sunny27
Post 1

Great article- I want to add that wearing proper attire in the workplace also displays proper etiquette.

For example, an employee that works in a business environment in which the standard attire is a business suit would be showing improper form by wearing casual pants and sneakers.

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