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The new office etiquette: Rules for today's workplace

The new office etiquette: Rules for today's workplace

Learning these office etiquette rules for employees can help you adapt to a new office and new co-workers or improve your relationships with your existing co-workers. In some ways, today's work environments are more casual and relaxed than they were in the past. In other ways, people are more likely to become offended if others don't act in a professional way. Here are some tips you can use to get along well with co-workers and supervisors and advance your career.

Stay off social media

People can view your social media posts from years ago, and what's acceptable can change over time. Posts that were perfectly fine when you made them could become offensive later, because of recent current events or changes to laws. It's a good idea to set your social media accounts to private or friends only. That way, an employer won't decide not to hire or promote you because they don't like one of your past social media posts.

Before you post on social media, think carefully about how people might react to the post in the future. Avoid any statements that could be considered unprofessional or offensive. It's also a good idea to avoid surfing social media, especially while you're at work. There are many ways that you can spend your time more effectively, increasing your productivity and performance.

Take phone calls in private

Most people have cell phones, and getting an occasional personal call at work is normal. However, you should avoid taking these calls at your desk and letting others hear your personal business. Instead, take a brief walk outside or go to an empty conference room. That way, you can talk privately without disturbing other people who want to concentrate on their work.

Don't gossip about others

Gossiping about other people often says more about you than those you discuss. When you speculate about the personal lives of others or spread rumors that may not be true, you show people that you can't be trusted to keep confidence. You could even hurt your chances for a promotion. When others gossip, don't participate.

"In some ways, today's work environments are more casual and relaxed than they were in the past. In other ways, people are more likely to become offended if others don't act in a professional way."

Watch your language

Avoid cursing at the office, no matter how laid-back your co-workers seem. Also, avoid songs with lots of cursing or graphic language. It's OK to wear headphones to listen to this type of music occasionally, but don't make them a constant fixture on your head. That way, you can respond immediately if someone needs to talk to you or you get a phone call.

Knock before entering

Whether you're entering a conference room or a co-worker's cubicle, it's polite to knock before you go in. That way, you can avoid interrupting or distracting people. Others will also be more likely to remember to knock when they enter your personal space.

Stay home if you feel sick

Even if you tested negative for COVID-19, working from home can be a good idea if you don't feel 100%. It gives you a chance to rest, recuperate, and avoid spreading germs to others. Working from home can often be quieter, more comfortable, and less distracting than working in the office.

Use social distancing

While COVID-19 isn't as widespread as it was during the height of the pandemic, it's still around. You can help protect others and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask while indoors and using social distancing. Before you shake hands with someone or come into other forms of close contact, ask if it's OK. Some people may prefer a friendly wave or an elbow bump instead.

Set reminders for virtual meetings and conference calls

For many people, one of the hardest parts about working remotely is remembering to log in to virtual meetings or conference calls. Set a reminder about 15 minutes before each meeting or call is scheduled to start. That way, you'll have time to go to the restroom and work out any issues with your computer software, webcam, microphone, or other equipment.

Dress professionally

Even if you're working from home, it's a good idea to dress professionally. That way, you'll be prepared if there's a last-minute virtual meeting. Pajamas might be comfy, but they can look very unprofessional. It can also be pretty embarrassing when you get out of your chair to grab a drink or pet your dog and everyone sees that you're not wearing pants.

Work in a quiet, neutral place

When you work from home, set up in a spare room where you can stay away from distractions. Sit with a blank wall or a bookshelf behind you to keep pets or family members from wandering into your webcam's view. If you have a child, consider using child care, hiring a nanny or babysitter, or getting help from a spouse, if possible.

Whether you work in a large office or a small business, etiquette matters. These office etiquette rules for employees can make getting along with others and working as a team easier. If you're looking for a new job, create a profile on CareerBuilder to find a new position faster.

Related reading: office etiquette rules for employees

Here's some more information about the consequences of having bad manners at work.

Whether it's a normal day or an office celebration, etiquette is important.

Avoiding these bad habits can help you get along with your co-workers better.

If you need to discuss a tough subject with your boss or a co-worker, bring it up tactfully.