The dos and don'ts of office etiquette

Eden Gillespie

If you asked someone in your office what annoys them about the behaviour of their colleagues, they’d probably give you a few pointers. That’s because office etiquette is common sense but often ignored.

If you’re a culprit, it might be a positive sign that you feel at home in your workplace. But while you might feel content kicking back, practising some decorum in your workplace will improve the mood of your colleagues.

Here’s some dos and don’ts.

Do: wear headphones

No one wants to hear Kanye blasting from your desk, or be interrupted by those vexatious YouTube ads while they’re trying to work.

Wearing headphones means you won’t be impeding on others' work and you can listen to the profanities of hip hop without offending anyone.

Do: make an effort to get to know everyone

People want to feel valued rather than being just another cog in a well-oiled machine.

Get to know your employees and remember something you have in common with them. That way you’ll be able to strike up a conversation with them each time you pass them during the day.

Do: offer to do the coffee run once in a while

A boss doing the coffee run when they’ve got an extra minute pays witness to how humble they are.

No one’s too important to tackle the coffee run. It’s about time you appreciated the mammoth task of carrying a fully-stacked coffee tray in-person.

Do: share your snacks and treats

The first commandment of office etiquette states that all goodies must be shared. It’s company policy.

Share your treats around in hopes that it’ll catch on and your office will become fully-stocked with generous snack off-loaders.

Don’t: engage in office gossip and politics

Do not join in on bitching or gossip because it’ll only lead to distrust and animosity in the office.

When employees come to blows, don’t take sides. It’s the Chief of Staff’s job to sort out the riots. Be neutral like Switzerland.

Don’t: steal food from the office fridge to claim as your own

Speaking of distrust, thieving from the communal fridge is your one-stop to being the office pest.

Bring your own meals or risk an uprising.

Don’t: treat your workspace as a rubbish dump

Take a bit of pride in your office and clean up after yourself. Leaving a trail of clutter behind you exhibits selfishness and will irritate everyone around you.

It’s just basic manners.

Don’t: be the quiet person in the corner who doesn’t engage

Being introverted is one thing, but not making an effort to bond with your employees is time wasted.

Make your presence known and say your daily “hi” and “bye”. It’ll boost the mood of your office.

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie is a Sydney-based freelancer who writes about politics, travel, media and marketing.

Twitter: @edengillespie | | Website:

Image: The Office, official Facebook page