What is Workplace Etiquette?

B. Miller

Workplace etiquette refers to proper behavior in the workplace, for making the environment where people work a polite, respectful, pleasant place to be. This etiquette may differ in various working environments, and many companies will have specific guides to workplace etiquette and business conduct that they expect from their employees. Examples of etiquette in the workplace might include addressing coworkers politely, refilling the printer or copier with paper if it is empty, or keeping one's workspace clean and free of materials that could be offensive to others.

Workplace etiquette can include adhering to dress codes.
Workplace etiquette can include adhering to dress codes.

In general, workplace etiquette is based on respect for others. Treating others kindly, politely, and with respect is one of the single most important aspects of any kind of etiquette, not just at work. Some examples of this include listening when other people are speaking without interrupting, not checking messages during a meeting, only contributing to a conversation or meeting if there is something worthwhile to add, and recognizing when other people may need help and offering assistance.

Sometimes workplace etiquette involves creating a pleasant environment to work in.
Sometimes workplace etiquette involves creating a pleasant environment to work in.

If an error or a mistake is made, admitting it and offering an apology is another important aspect of workplace etiquette. Simple signs of respect for coworkers, such as not eating someone else's lunch or taking something off another's desk without asking are important to keep in mind as well. People should never tell offensive jokes at work; beyond poor etiquette, this can be considered a form of harassment, depending on the subject of the joke.

Workplace etiquette can involve the etiquette used when working with an outside client.
Workplace etiquette can involve the etiquette used when working with an outside client.

Adhering to a workplace dress code is another type of workplace etiquette, even if it seems pointless. The dress code is in place for a reason, and it is helpful for everyone if all of the employees adhere to it. Office relationships should be avoided as a general rule, and many offices have specific regulations against them, but if such relationships are allowed, they should not be flaunted.

Personal phone calls or browsing should be avoided during the work day.
Personal phone calls or browsing should be avoided during the work day.

Taking responsibility for one's own work is necessary as well. Everyone gets distracted at work and browses the web sometimes, but time spent at work should generally be spent working. Personal phone calls and web browsing should be kept to a minimum. Projects should be completed by their deadlines and only extensions requested only if it is absolutely necessary.

Any additional rules for workplace conduct should be included in a workplace manual. Although it may be an employee's right to question a rule, unless that rule is changed, it is a sign of respect for other people to follow the rule even if the employee disagrees with it.

Etiquette in the workplace is generally based on respect for others.
Etiquette in the workplace is generally based on respect for others.

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Discussion Comments

anon189818

The world will not end because of it. Businesses always get run down to the ground eventually, merged, etc. It's all a pointless endeavor working in corporations. Study medicine, dentistry. Something that is going to enrich peoples lives. Don't be a numb-headed idiot who only sees the world as numbers and a set of predefined 'logically-molded' HR diarrhea.

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