10 office etiquette rules to abide by


1. Don’t be selfish when you pack your lunch

You might love an aromatic curry, Surströmming, or a light appetiser of over-boiled sprouts for your lunch but the chances are, your colleagues probably don’t. There are occasions where we all resort to eating at our desks (although for greater health and wellbeing it’s best to take regular breaks). But, literally, like a bad smell the scent of a working lunch can linger for the rest of the afternoon; you won’t be the most popular member on the team. For goodness sake eat your lunch in the canteen, or if the weather is nice, take it outside.

Unless you’ve got cake, in which case you can sit next to me.

2. Keep your private life away from the office

Your girlfriend just dumped you, the Victoria Line is down, you’ve been short changed buying a flat white and Outlook is up to its usual tricks (please can we just get Gmail?). Life is not #FTW. I know, I know, you’re having a hard time at home but not everyone at the office wants to hear it. It is factually incorrect to believe your stories create a bond between you and your co-workers; listening to a colleague’s personal woes is hardly the high point of anyone’s day; we all have our own issues.

3. Don’t ask colleagues how to spell

Be resourceful. Use a dictionary. Their expectations of you will be lowered and your professional abilities will be undermined if you ask for help with the simplest of tasks. Harsh but true.

4. Watch your language

What you say is a reflection of the person you are – and you are not Danny Dyer OR Malcolm Tucker. There’s a chance your colleague is on an important phone call, or that a client could walk in at any moment. Bad language is unprofessional.

Swearing in front of a client will get you in the thick of it

5. Be punctual

Obvious much? You may think that five minutes a day makes little difference, even if you leave five minutes later in the evening. However, your tardiness is probably going to annoy others who arrive on time, every time. Also, when there does happen to be an emergency or problem with your daily commute which makes you late, your boss is going to be more likely believe you if you’re normally early or on time.

6. Don’t step on other people’s toes

Metaphorically speaking (but literally too!). If you think part of a task you need to complete falls within someone else’s remit then it might be wise to ask if it is OK for you to be involved. Office politics and etiquette is something we all know and don’t particularly love, but we’ re all in this together (thanks Dave). Perhaps you could ask your colleague if they can help you; they’ll be flattered you asked them, you’ll smooth relations in the long run, and who knows, you might learn something in the process too.

Just don’t do it, in the literal and metaphorical sense

7. Don’t gossip

If you gossip about other colleagues, their faith in you will soon disappear. No one wants to give information to a blabber mouth. And don’t think they won’t find out it was you who let the cat out the bag – they will.

8. Respect company property

Whether it’s using your company credit card for your lunch when you forget your wallet, or sending personal post through your office mail room, the consequences can be harsh. Using services in the right way can prove that you’re a trustworthy employee.

9. Clean up after yourself

Put the stapler or office gadget du jour back where you found it and wash out your coffee mug. Thanks.

10. Handle issues privately

If you have a problem with another employee, be discreet. They could be unaware of the problems that they are causing. If customers witness any arguments you’ll be seen as unprofessional too.