The underlying theme to start positive interactions in a private workspace is proper etiquette and mannerisms. Common sense, basic manners, and appropriate behavior are extremely crucial for long-term success in the workplace. There are various social and behavioral expectations associated with employees, including overall attire, workplace attitude, body language, the efficiency of communication, and so on. However, while workplace etiquettes are not exactly plastered on the notice board of your private workspace, employers do expect you to know and follow them. Etiquettes in the professional world go beyond just shaking hands and refilling the printer ink after use. Thus, if you are getting those weird looks from your coworkers and don’t know what you did wrong, go through the following workplace etiquette to get your answer:
1. Avoid using shared spaces for personal networking:
How would you feel if your coworker asked you how the weird family dinner went last night even though you never discussed anything like that with them? Chances are, some of your peers might have involuntarily eavesdropped on your personal calls because you were taking them publicly. Privacy in the workspace holds immense importance in all corporate cultures throughout the world. Consider economic giants like Taiwan, which is also Asia’s top business hub; such countries follow strict protocols regarding work ethics and etiquette. Unlike many countries, workspace in Taiwan is very particular about elements like respect, privacy, and saving face in the office. In private workspaces, it is an unspoken rule that you should never use shared spaces such as office cubicles, lunch areas, or common rooms to make personal calls. Always make personal calls behind closed doors.
2. Keep your phone and computer muted:
Nobody likes to hear a Justin Bieber ringtone echoing in the quiet space of the office when they are in the middle of an important email. Therefore, if you don’t want to get the ‘stare,’ make sure your phone and other devices are either on silent or on mute. Constantly ringing phones and notification chimes are a big distraction for others, so try to keep your personal affairs out of office hours.
3. Beware of the ‘Reply All’ curse:
There is always someone in the team who neglects to check if they are clicking on the ‘Reply All’ button or ‘Reply’ button when sending an email. How would you feel if the contents of an email meant for a specific colleague or superior drops in the inbox of every person in the company? It is not only embarrassing but also raises eyebrows towards your competence. Thus, before hitting either the ‘Reply’ or ‘Reply All’ button, it is common etiquette to consider whether all of the recipients mentioned in the initial email need to read your response. Always double-check or ask for help when in doubt.
4. Pay attention to online etiquettes:
You should not only maintain standards of professionalism and mannerisms face-to-face but also when interacting with coworkers virtually. Many senior professionals often communicate with newbies and other colleagues through various internal communications tools. This means that the only perception they have of you is your virtual persona. So do not use emojis, all caps, and internet slang, and avoid adding too many punctuation marks because not all organizations encourage informal speech. Maintain a professional tone, do not discuss personal matters, and use correct language. Also, remember to be precise, concise, and grammatically correct whenever communicating with coworkers online, and double-check the content you are sharing.
5. Do not overuse/damage the amenities:
Office amenities are there to make your working hours easy and bearable. This does not mean that you own those amenities or can improperly use them. It is okay to take full advantage of the facilities offered at the private workspace, but don’t hog them since others may want to use them too. You do not want to be that coworker who doesn’t clean after themselves in the kitchen. Don’t misuse, damage, or be selfish with company property and the amenities provided.
6. Don’t walk in unannounced:
Walking into someone’s cabin unannounced is the most unprofessional and annoying thing an employee can do. Do not ignore protocol or take ‘feel at ease’ a little too seriously. No matter how friendly your seniors or coworkers are, you are not entitled to disregard their authority or invade their privacy by barging into their office unannounced. Thus, you always need to knock first, wait for their reply, and then enter. This dictate is not just valid for a conventional office space with separate cabins but also in the shared areas of a private workspace – you should excuse yourself or give a slight tap before interrupting others.
7. Be mindful of what you bring for lunch:
While the fish curry may be one of your favorite dishes for lunch, bringing it to the office is not a good idea since it will not only leave a strong smell in the microwave, but its stench will permeate throughout the floor. Etiquettes related to bringing food to a private workspace state that you shouldn’t inconvenience others with pungent leftovers or other foods with a strong smell like curries, cured fish, or leftover meat. When you open your lunchbox at the desk, more often than not, the smell of its contents fills the room, and your coworkers may not appreciate smelling what you bring for lunch every day. So, make it a habit of eating in the lunchroom or common area. Also, do not leave a mess in the shared spaces, especially after using common appliances or utensils.
8. Keep the gossiping to a minimum:
Nobody likes a gossiper. Nobody. Nada. Gossiping and looking for juicy details is one of the worst things you can do in a private workspace. Remember, no matter how everyone may enjoy listening to office gossip, they will always keep the person who started the gossip in low regard. The way you treat people and how you talk about them behind their backs speaks volumes about your character. If you have an issue with someone, complain to your supervisor or HR. However, badmouthing or gossiping about one coworker to another is considered highly unprofessional in the workplace.
Your image and success in the workplace are much more dependent on how you conduct yourself than you may think. Your professional responsibilities and performance aren’t the only things that establish your value in the office. Working in private workspaces demands an understanding and implementation of office etiquettes as a form of professionalism. Therefore, when working in a private office space, you should conduct yourself in the best way possible to forge solid professional relationships and establish goodwill.