Despite the way many of my peers and friends feel, I actually really love (and really wanted to be) working in an office environment straight out of school. There’s just something about the normalcy, the sense of community, and the structure that it provides. Most of my friends and classmates took some time (or years) off after graduation to travel and explore, but I always had a different plan for how I’d get that experience (but more on that another day). My plan involved going corporate.
Considering I’ve only just finished school, I’ve got a surprisingly large amount of hours logged in an office. Through my various work placements, it’s safe to estimate it at over two years.
In those two years though, I’ve learned a lot of things about office survival, but unfortunately not all of them are obvious. I say unfortunately because although you might make an effort to adhere to office etiquette, your colleagues and office mates may not, and that can drive you up the wall.
So, whether you’ve worked in an office before, work in one now, or anticipate working in one in the future, I’ve compiled a list of guidelines to follow so that your coworkers and superiors will notice your brains and talent, instead of your incessant pen-clicking habit (not that I’ve ever done that).
If you eat lunch at your desk, it’s in your very best interest to pack something that doesn’t carry a strong odour. Be especially cautious of workplace allergies, and potent foods like fish, which can have lingering and unpleasant smells. Most importantly, always dispose of your food garbage in the kitchen or lunchroom–not in your office where it will continue to smell.
2. Cell Phone Ringtones
Most offices won’t mind if you text or receive the occasional phone call on your mobile phone while you’re at work. As long as you do it subtly, and remain on task for the most part, it’s fine. However, it’s best if you leave your phone on vibrate, or even silent. Your neighbours do not care to know that your boyfriend is texting you, especially if it’s every 4 minutes.
3. Using Your Headphones
Again, many offices will allow you to listen to music or your ipod while you work. But make sure that when you do, you can see the door to your office, or the direction that people come from when they come to speak to you. There is nothing more off-putting than standing behind someone and trying to get their attention while they bob their head to the latest and greatest album release. And remember to keep the volume low enough that your neighbours aren’t subjected to the heavy bass that is slowly killing your eardrums.
4. Phone Calls
Back on the topic of phones, remember to speak quietly when making a call, whether on your cell or office phone. Other people around you are working. If you must speak loudly (if the other person can’t hear you, for example), go into the hallway or a conference room. And ditto for personal conversations–you’re neighbour does not need to know that you have a gynecologist appointment next Tuesday.
Some types of jewellery, most prominently bracelets, can make a lot of noise clicking against your desk and keyboard all day. Try to keep these types of accessories to a minimum (it will also likely improve the life of your jewellery!).
6. Foot-Tapping, Pen-Clicking, and Humming
Whatever you’re doing, be aware of your habits that may be irritating to others. If you’re tapping your foot on the desk, clicking your pens, or humming to your ipod, chances are high that it’s grating on your co-workers’ nerves. Even cupcakes and candy won’t solve that problem.
Alright this one is admittedly odd, but please keep your shoes on. You never know when the big boss is going to stop by your desk, and it’s just respectful of your colleagues to not treat the office like your tv room. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s just weird.
I’m aware that this is just a small collection of things that can potentially be super annoying (to put it mildly), but these are the ones that I’ve personally had experience with (and… maybe committed once or twice–we’re all human!). If there are any that you think I’ve missed, I’d love for you to post them in the comments.
Lastly, remember: next time you sit down in your office chair, let your big smile and professional prowess take centre stage, not your restless leg syndrome! xo