MetalWorks Inc.

Office and Workplace Etiquette

Office and Workplace Etiquette

Trash Fairy to clean dirty coffee mugs and leftover dishes.
Must work cheap and not gag at the site of mold.

Well, let’s just say until this lovely creature responds to the help wanted ad, everyone will have to clean up after themselves.

When it comes to workplace etiquette, you might find that a number of things aren’t written in ink. Sure, your employee handbook covers the formalities- You know the section; Employee agrees to; blah, blah, blah?  Ah, yes. That one!

But what about the guidelines that everyone knows, but no one really talks about?

Well, just as there are in unisex bathrooms, marriage rules and restaurants, there are also sets of unseen, but understood, read between the lines type of rules at work. 

Let me give you an example of an unseen, but well-known rule;

Never snap your fingers at a waiter and go “hey you! Ya you! I need service!”  That’s a no- no and if you do that too much or too loud to your waiter, you are taking a chance at getting cold food or food with a pinch of human saliva on it; (spit)…ewww! 

Here’s an easy one.  Your wife/girlfriend puts on a new dress and asks you “does this dress make me look fat?”  You never, ever say anything other than “honey, you make that dress look good!”  Anything else and you now get to share the couch with the dog tonight. 

Now we understand the gist I’m talking about, right?  Right!

There’s no handbook for that, you just have to know the rules.  By the way, I’m here all week and marriage advice is only $50/hr for the first hour, and $20 for each hour after that. LOL!

To help us all get along better in our workplaces, I’ve gathered up some “unwritten rules”.  These are not every unwritten rule out there, and may not even be other company’s top rules, but I like them and think they should all be paid attention to. 

The Unwritten Rules at Work

#1 Loud Music.

This one’s a hard one for me, because I love working with my tunes cranked up, jamming out to some Jason Aldean or Luke Combs.  I’m usually okay with the passerby’s when country is on, but my 80’s music can get some really ugly stink faces!

A good rule is to keep your music turned down low or close your door to save others from the joy of your voice as you sing along to Celine Dion.  Another way is to plug in.  Plug in your earphones and instantly you are now in your own concert hall, with zero worry of it carrying farther than intended, that is unless you are still signing out loud to Celine Dion…you are still going to have someone pounding on your door for that one!

For you fellas cruising down the road in as a pair in a crew truck.  Well, the usual rule is “My Truck, my music”.  Sorry, but Lead man usually gets to pick the music.  Now, there’s nothing that says a little token of respect won’t help you out and allow you to control that knob once in a while.  A morning donut with coffee or buying that last beer for your Lead man just might do the trick and allow some radio allowances the next day, or on the trip back home.

#2 Being Noisy

This one is going to mostly be directed for that ever-so-important office time.  I know in my business, our boys tend to be boisterous with their stories, creative in their word usage (cussing), and will definitely lose track of their atmosphere before going off on a curse-laden joke or story.  Nothing can ruin a professional conversation with an important purchasing agent quite as fast as someone dropping the F-bomb as they walk by your office!  So, let’s remember to pay attention to our atmosphere, our audience (especially unintended ones), and that not everyone is going to appreciate how well your voice carries when they can’t hear someone on the other line.

#3 Respecting Your Co-Worker’s Privacy


Didn’t we just cover that one?  No, this is different. 

No matter how close you are to your co-worker, you have to respect their privacy. Always ask before entering their office, or workspace.  A little tap on the door, getting a response to enter “before” barging into their office, goes a long way. 

Here’s a good one.  Never take their stuff without their consent. If you happen to borrow your co-worker’s stationery stuff or anything, return it as soon as possible without fail! (And in working condition)

A sidebar to your co-worker’s privacy is also making sure you are not “stealing” time when you come by their space.  Nothing’s worse than typing out the second or third version of a very important document, or doing heavy math, only to have someone burst through the door to tell you a soliloquy about last night’s party adventures. 

In my case, while someone thinks they are romancing me a story, I am ever-so-slowly losing my tiny little choo-choo train of thought…and now it’s gone!

Thanks, bubba!

#4 Taking Someone’s Food From the Fridge

Come on, Brenda. You know that butter doesn’t belong to you.” Sure, you might only be borrowing ‘a little bit’ – but those rogue toast crumbs you left around the edges are a dead giveaway.”

Not. Fooling. Anyone.

No matter how tempting another employee’s soda appears, it doesn’t belong to you, so don’t take it. Unless the person offers you some, pretend it isn’t there. If you crave it, add the item to your shopping list and get your own.

#5 Clean Up Your Own Dirty Dishes

There’s a common phrase that shows up at all lunchrooms.

What’s that saying, again? Oh yeah! 

Your mom or wife does not work here.  Clean up after yourself!” 

Well, I happen to know of at least 2 people who’s wives do work at our place of business, so “nah, nah, nah”! 

Nope, baaad answer, as these two “wives” can literally cut you in half with their stares.  That is exactly what would happen to the two fellas who work with their wives here. 

…Yes, yes, one of them is me!

 “So, uh, there’s a cleaner who does that sort of thing eventually, right?” Nope, that’s just your colleague who can’t stand the smell of your leftover Lasagna any longer.

PSA: there is such a thing as too much garlic…at least at work there is!

 #6 Eating (or microwaving) Literally Anything That Smells Bad

See also: fish and eggs. They’re basically banned from all workplaces that house humans with noses. “Didn’t you get the memo?”

If you have to eat them at work, at least make sure

  1. No one is around, and
  2. You don’t eat them at your desk. It’s just common courtesy.

#7 Indulging in Office Gossip… (or, you know…starting it)

Workplace gossip is really one of the cardinal no-nos.  Gossip or rumormongering, as I call it, can whittle away at staff morale and weave threads of interoffice tension that can be difficult to eradicate.

As employees whisper behind closed doors, productivity diminishes, and the bottom line suffers. While it might seem impossible to grind the workplace rumor mill to a full stop, we can curb it through sticking to our core values and follow the “do unto others” rule.  Would you want someone spreading gossip about you, especially if it wasn’t true?


Well, don’t do it then!

#8 If you see it, own it. If you own it, pick it up

It’s weird how much more can be seen by looking down.”

Did you know that statistics say that we spend a third or more of our days at work? Did you also know that you are impacted and influenced by that environment every second that you are there?

Hmmm, makes you think.

Many people place a great deal of importance on the cleanliness of their homes but pay little to no attention to the cleanliness of their workplace. Having a clean workplace is important for all employees. This is why it is so important to take the initiative and take action if we see, hear or “trip” over something that is out of place. 

You know what I’m talking about. 

Walk in the office and there’s a new box on the floor, and it’s in the middle of the floor.  Do you walk around it and say? “man, someone should do something about that box”, or do you at least look to see if there’s a name on it and let that person know?

Seeing empty packages on the floor for the second day in a row?  Do you go pick them up and toss them, or instead say “Hey, someone left empty packages on the floor” and then keep walking.

This section could also be called “helping your fellow worker out” section.  Even though you may not be responsible for a mess you come across, or things left not put away, once you see it, you have to own it.  Pick it up, put it away, clean it up, whatever has to be done.  By all means, if this happens more than once, the person/s who are chronically making messes need to be sought out and delt with.

  In the meantime, someone (you) has to take initiative to do what needs to be done.

Trust me, your co-workers and bosses will appreciate the extra efforts and you’ll go home knowing you did the right thing just because it was the right thing.  A person can get a great night’s sleep with that knowledge, let me tell ya’.

#9 Making That Cup of Espresso and NOT Asking if Anyone Else Wants One

This can also be associated with heading down to the Quicky Mart for a soda or water and NOT asking if anyone wants one.  Also, always waiting for someone else to go so you never have to “do the rounds”, so to speak. 

And as payback you’re totally getting that weird flavor of Monster drink that no one likes.  “aw Bill, sorry bud, they were out of the one you like, so I got you Mango pickle papaya coffee flavor, instead.”

#10 Minding your P’s and Q’s

The most basic, yet most skipped over etiquette rule ever! Plus, this one is universal, too. 

Just in the unlikelihood no one told you this, it is really important to use “please”, “Thank You” and “sorry” in your conversations with co-workers. 

Go figure.

This goes for your subordinates, too.  Just because you are a boss, does not excuse you from saying “Go wash my car and vacuum it out…. pretty please.”  See how I added the pretty please at the end?  I’m just joking, I wash and vacuum my own vehicle…thank you! 

The please part always happens here, though. 

Your momma was right.  You can never go wrong with being polite.

Yes, even if you don’t feel like it!

Remember that business etiquette is about building valuable and respectable business relationships with others. It is about creating an environment wherein all members of a company feel secure, comfortable and relaxed.  Business etiquette is also about maintaining a pleasant atmosphere at work by treating employees and co-workers with courtesy and respect.

“Please keep in mind that office etiquette is the part and parcel of your work environment. If you neglect it, you could harm your career and spoil your goodwill.”

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