Many people spend more time with their colleagues than with members of their own family. That's reason enough to strive for a good climate in the workplace. Observing a few rules of etiquette is often sufficient to get along with co-workers.
There are so many pitfalls between the office kitchen and the conference room. Gossiping about colleagues, getting too familiar with superiors or wearing a far-too-deeply plunging neckline are perfect ways to earn a dubious reputation on the job. People who want to work in an office with a nice atmosphere should by all means watch their manners while on the job. Here's a list of the most important rules guiding office behaviour:
Be punctual and dependable:
"Most people become annoyed when someone wastes their time," said Susanne Helbach-Grosser, a business etiquette trainer in Germany. Employees should ask for help early when they are unable to handle their workload, but they should also be aware that if they constantly complain about stress it can get on their co-workers' nerves.
Eating at one's desk:
When someone occasionally munches an apple at his or her desk, it is completely acceptable, said Agnes Jarosch of a German organisation dedicated to counselling people about etiquette. "But when I sit at my desk and unpack a steaming hot cutlet that spreads its aroma throughout the bureau, that is inconsiderate toward colleagues," said Jarosch. It's better to consume meals like that in the breakroom or at a restaurant.
Heat on or window open?: This is a classic conflict because it's often the case that the room temperature is too hot for one colleague, but too cold for another. "There's often a row when a co-worker simply throws a window open or lowers the air conditioning without asking first," said Helbach-Grosser. There's no simple solution for this problem. "The colleagues must talk with each other. There's no way around it."
Office attire for men: Men have it easier than women when it comes to selecting the right clothing for the office, said style consultant Renate Sperber. Men don't always have to wear a business suit, however. "It's important that his clothes are well-groomed. Thanks to its collar, a polo shirt has a completely different effect than a simple T-shirt," Sperber said. "But a colleague who wears a wrinkled T-shirt to work signals to his colleagues that he doesn't care what impression he makes on them. That isn't much appreciated."
Office attire for women: "Women should uphold the business dress code unfailingly," said Sperber. Dressing in sexy clothing is taboo. Women can get by with wearing bright colours these days. "But the trend is moving toward neat and preppy. You should also occasionally dress in a solid colour." She added that discreet makeup is an absolute must.
Mobile phone etiquette: As long as there are not constantly private conversations, using a private mobile phone in the office usually doesn't cause a problem, said Helbach-Grosser. But be careful with ringtones: Those that make the sound of a crying baby or tweeting birds for example are unprofessional, she said.
Ladies first: "Certain chivalrous gestures continue to make a good impression," said Jarosch. But colleagues should realise that woman can also be polite. When a male colleague carries a huge pile of files, for example, the female colleague should hold the door open for him.