What is Workplace Etiquette? Oveview, Advice, 4 Facts

Workplace etiquette refers to good behavior in the workplace, which makes the working atmosphere courteous, respectful, and enjoyable. Continue reading to learn all you need to know. 

What is Workplace Etiquette?

The term “workplace etiquette” refers to the right conduct required to make the workplace a courteous, respectful, and enjoyable place to work. This etiquette may vary depending on the working environment, and many firms have particular guidelines for the etiquette and behaviour they demand from their employees.

What is Workplace Etiquette? 

Examples of office etiquette include addressing coworkers with politeness, replenishing the printer or copier with paper when it runs out, and keeping one’s workstation clean and clear of anything that might be objectionable to others.

In general, workplace etiquette is founded on respect for others. Treating people generously, respectfully, and with respect is one of the single most fundamental parts of any sort of etiquette, not only at work.

Some instances of this include listening while other people are speaking without interrupting, not checking messages during a meeting, only adding to a conversation or meeting if there is anything meaningful to say, and recognizing when other people may need aid and providing it.

Workplace Etiquette: The Don’ts

There are some activities and habits that you should never bring to the job. This can have significant negative effects on your career. However, basic business etiquette is not as intuitive for many people as one might assume. Here are some of the most egregious office faux pas.

What is Workplace Etiquette?

1. Don’t “Reply All” to an email chain.

When responding to an email, be aware of the distinctions between clicking “Reply” and “Reply All” and their implications. Consider carefully if all of the recipients of the first email need to be included in your response. In addition, “replying everyone” may result in embarrassment if your whole organization sees information that was intended for only two recipients.

Always do your share to keep emails and other forms of contact cordial and professional. Treat your emails as a professional form of communication and ensure that the information you give is acceptable for the time, location, and individuals involved.

2. Don’t have personal conversations at your desk.

If you must have a private or intimate phone discussion at work, avoid having it at your desk where others can hear it. Many offices include conference rooms that may be used for phone conversations; alternatively, you may choose to stroll outside.

A personal talk at your desk can be disruptive to your coworkers and may expose you to rumors that you “can’t leave your personal life at home,” which is detrimental to your professional image.

3. Don’t bring your emotions into the office.

When you enter the workplace, you should leave your personal feelings at the door. Your coworker is not interested in hearing your weekend sob tale.

If anything has occurred that prevents you from focusing on your work, it’s definitely best to take some time for yourself to process your feelings. Or, if something in the workplace is troubling you, contact human resources or your supervisor to remedy the problem so that it does not interfere with your job.

What is Workplace Etiquette?

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Regardless of how trivial they may appear, clarifying expectations can assist you avoid finishing a whole project incorrectly just to learn you did it wrong. There is nothing worse than excessive confidence, especially when it is not supported by genuine experience or expertise.

So go ahead and ask your questions, but be sure to listen carefully to the response.

5. Don’t gossip about fellow coworkers…or your boss.

Do not engage in gossip; it is one of the cardinal sins of the workplace. Whether you are inclined to spread rumors about your employer, a coworker, or the firm as a whole, you are only harming yourself.

You won’t be able to achieve your professional goals if you’re perceived as untrustworthy or not a team player due to gossip. It can also be quite damaging if it reaches the target of the talk.

6. Don’t use emojis or multiple exclamation points (if any) in work emails.

This piece of advise is dependent upon the particulars of your employment. Some businesses may encourage the use of emojis and casual speech, while others may need a constant degree of formality.

Regardless, be mindful and deliberate in your communication construction. Work emails do not need to be solemn at all times, but you should retain a feeling of professionalism so that others perceive you as a capable expert.

No matter how relaxed your supervisors may appear, you should always speak properly in your office emails. After some time on the job, you will have a clearer understanding of what is acceptable in your workplace.

7. Don’t talk back to your boss.

This piece of advice ought to go without saying, yet it is nevertheless essential. Even if the age gap between you and your supervisor is very small, you should never speak back. Always show your supervisor respect, and avoid being snarky or glib.

This does not mean that you cannot disagree with them over parts of the work, a project, or the company’s strategy. If you have views or concerns, you must always feel free to express them. However, the manner in which this is accomplished is significant.

Hopefully, you will eventually have the opportunity to ascend the job ladder. You will need your manager’s assistance to reach your goals.

8. Don’t forget that at work socials, you’re still at work.

Company trips may be an excellent opportunity to connect with employees and get to know them beyond their 9-to-5 selves. But it is essential to remember that, while you should be yourself, you are also surrounded by coworkers with whom you will be working tomorrow.

If alcohol is offered, exercise extra caution to avoid intoxication. The next day, everyone will know why you “called in sick.”

9. Don’t be nervous, but also don’t overstep your boundaries.

You will frequently find yourself treading a tight line in the office when it comes to your presentation. You want to be courteous, but you don’t want to look stuffy; you want to appear confident, but you don’t want to overstep your limits; you want to share your thoughts, but they need to be G-rated.

Learning the balance will require trial and error on your side, but it is a necessary skill.

10. Don’t forget an umbrella.

Even at work, it is essential to be prepared for all of life’s irritations. Sitting all day in damp clothing is not enjoyable. It is not enjoyable to walk around with a coffee-stained shirt because the coffee lid popped off.

It is unpleasant to converse with someone who has spinach stuck in their teeth from lunch. Keeping an umbrella, replacement shoes, dental floss, and even a spare shirt at your desk (or the trunk of your car) for emergencies is a sensible idea.

Workplace Etiquette: The Dos

1. Do arrive early.

New employees frequently get the following advice: You want to arrive at the office before your employer and remain until after his or her departure.

In a society where tardiness is prevalent, the fact that you answered the phone at 8:01 a.m. will be remembered (especially in major cities, where traffic can cause all kinds of headaches). You will also be noticed if you frequently arrive 15 minutes later than everyone else, but not in the way you desire.

2. Do network with people outside of your cubicle.

Obviously, it is essential that you do your assignment on time and at the required level. However, it is also crucial to note that one of the benefits of working for a firm you admire is the opportunity to meet others with similar interests who may offer job-related advise based on their prior experiences.

What is Workplace Etiquette?

Therefore, it is essential to take networking opportunities seriously, especially when you are just beginning your career. Simply making oneself available, as well as grabbing coffee or lunch with employees, attending happy hour or other corporate gatherings, may go a long way.

3. Do be willing to help out a coworker.

If a coworker requests your assistance in finishing a task, you should normally agree, provided that you can realistically assist them while also meeting your own deadlines. This is your chance to distinguish yourself and exhibit your knowledge and talents.

It’s also a chance to create a buddy and pull someone into your corner for the future; you never know when that may prove useful.

4. Do bring in goodies.

Whether you have time one evening, baking cookies, brownies, or other snacks for your coworkers is a thoughtful gift, especially if you’re celebrating a victory or going through a difficult time.

If you do decide to bring in sweets, however, it is essential to determine in advance whether any of your employees have food allergies or dietary limitations such as gluten intolerance. Bringing something that everyone can appreciate will enhance the significance of the gesture.

5. Do create a proper personal email address.

It is not unusual to need to contact with coworkers outside of business hours or on the weekend. While many companies permit employees to access business email from home, others do not. In these situations, it is crucial to have a professional email account in case you need to send an email to a coworker or your supervisor. “Foxychick123” will not have the same effect as “firstname.lastname.”

6. Do jump at the chance to complete a new task.

If your supervisor, superior, or coworkers assign you a duty you’ve never completed before, it’s normal to feel anxious. However, this is not a grounds to refuse the job. Accepting new tasks broadens your skill set and might lead to enticing future chances.

What is Workplace Etiquette?

They choose you because they have faith in your ability. Before becoming too engrossed in the activity, be careful to ask questions, seek guidance, and confirm that you are on the correct path.

7. Do be flexible.

Occasionally, you will be recruited for a project or program that demands flexibility. You may be asked to work earlier or later hours than normal, or to undertake jobs or tasks you don’t particularly want to complete or weren’t recruited to accomplish. You may one day be asked to work on a holiday, either to cover someone else’s shift or to see a project to its conclusion.

Willingness to roll with the punches displays that you appreciate the firm and take your career seriously, which can only benefit you in the long term.

8. Do dress appropriately for the office.

What is acceptable depends on the culture of your organization. However, it is always advisable to dress to impress, especially when beginning a new position at a firm. Even if there is no formal dress code, reserve the crop tops, flip-flops, and sheer shirts for the weekend; otherwise, no one will take you seriously.

9. Do make sure your earbuds are plugged in securely to your computer.

Have you ever listened to music or watched a movie on your laptop while in public, only to find that your headphones weren’t plugged in? What an embarrassment!

I can attest that it is much more awkward in the office. Your coworkers do not want to hear the 2 Chainz lyrics playing on Pandora.

10. Do be open-minded.

You should strive to have an open mind when undertaking new tasks, forming new connections, and developing in your job. Being adaptable and receptive to change will serve you well in the long term, as nothing is known with certainty.

And lastly…

11. Do wear a smile.

Possessing a good outlook on being at work will have a substantial impact on your job performance. Appearing cheerful, affable, and approachable at work may do wonders for your career. Never underestimate a smile’s power!

16 Key Tips for Proper Etiquette at Work

1. Introduce yourself appropriately

When meeting someone new, stand up to shake their hand while stating your full name. The only exception to the handshake is if you’re sick. In this case, you can say, “It’s very nice to meet you, Sam. I’d shake your hand, but I’m just getting over a cold and wouldn’t want to pass it to you.”

Many companies have their own set of acceptable etiquette rules, so it’s important to observe how members of upper management carry themselves and make the effort to mirror their manners.

2. Make it a habit to be prompt

Since infancy, being punctual has likely been engrained in your set of values. Repeated tardiness makes you appear impolite and communicates to your coworkers, superiors, and clients that their time is less precious than yours. Always schedule additional time between meetings so you won’t be late if anything unexpected occurs, such as a traffic block.

Obviously, everyone occasionally runs late. It is nearly inevitable. If anything unexpected occurs, inform your coworkers, clients, or superiors as quickly as possible so they can prepare or adjust their schedules accordingly.

3. Put away your mobile device

It is difficult to appear accessible if you are preoccupied with your phone, and it may convey a bad message about your ability to pay attention in meetings or concentrate on your work.

4. Ask people how they wish to communicate

This is significant because your message is more likely to be heard if you communicate in a manner that is easy for the recipient to understand. If you send a work-related text message to someone who prefers to use business email alone, they may be turned off.

Others may be terrible at checking email and prefer speaking over the phone. It would be erroneous to assume that others communicate in the same manner as you, as everyone has a preferred mode of interaction. Ask them and make every effort to adhere to that medium.

5. Avoid interrupting

Let others finish speaking without interrupting. This is basic proper etiquette no matter the situation. Cutting someone off to interject your own opinion or input, sends a message that you think your opinion matters more than theirs, or that you’re completely uninterested in hearing what they have to say.

If you have a profound thought while someone is talking, jot it down and stay silent until the person is done talking, then offer your thoughts. Writing down what you want to say not only reminds you what you were going to say, it also transfers that thought from your mind to the paper, so that you aren’t simply waiting to respond rather than listening to what the other person is saying.

6. Be reliable

If you’ve promised to be someplace or do a task, you must always keep your word. You will establish credibility with colleagues and contacts. Continue to follow through. Send a brief email or phone call to the individual to whom you’ve made a promise. This will establish your image as dependable and trustworthy.

7. Silence your phone

Notifications from mobile devices may be a distraction, particularly while working with several coworkers or clients. Put your cell phone on silent at the office so as not to bother others. You may utilize the vibrating notification setting if you are anticipating a phone call.

It is especially crucial to silence your phone during meetings, but your coworkers will appreciate the effort if you are in close proximity to them.

8. Keep the workplace clean

The workplace is a common space that everyone is responsible for maintaining. When you use a shared tool or item, place it back in its assigned location so that others can find it. To keep a clean, well-organized workplace, wipe off any soiled surfaces, such as tables and countertops. A tidy workplace can enhance team members’ motivation and productivity.

9. Arrive on time

Timeliness is a vital aspect of business etiquette. Demonstrate that you appreciate and value others’ time and priorities by coming on time for meetings, meeting deadlines, and arriving at work a few minutes early. When organizing meetings, aim to incorporate a period of time at the conclusion that will allow participants to go to their next engagement on time.

10. Eat in the break room or outside the workplace

Eating at your workplace might produce scents that are bothersome to your coworkers. Try to have lunch in specified areas, such as the break room or the cafeteria. When feasible, eating lunch outside the office is frequently the best option. In addition to reducing distractions for your coworkers, having lunch away from your desk or workspace can help you regain your concentration when you return to work.

11. Meet in designated spaces

Schedule a conference space or use a private office if you are meeting with two or more individuals. Having meetings in your office environment may result in noise that might distract your staff. During meetings, close the door to reduce noise. Use quiet tones for workplace meetings and one-on-one interactions.

12. Honor your commitments

With professionalism being such a broad issue, it can be tough to know where to begin in terms of your working habits and practices. According to Curameng, following through on agreements might be crucial.

She continues, “You may satisfy every other aspect of professionalism, but if you don’t follow your promises and do your work, none of it matters.”

If you consistently take responsibility for your assignments and other obligations, it will demonstrate that you are a responsible person who can do what is necessary to achieve a goal. In addition to meeting deadlines, you should strive to be punctual for the start of your day, meetings, and any other in-person or virtual work-related events.

Curameng adds, “Being on time gives an unsaid sense of respect for your obligations as well as the time and effort of your coworkers.”

13. Be attentive, responsive and proactive

It may sound elementary, but one of the most effective ways to demonstrate professionalism is to demonstrate interest by paying attentively. This may be taking notes during meetings, posing pertinent questions, or just exhibiting receptive body language.

Curameng asserts that if you do not adhere to these fundamentals of business etiquette, you may look bored, remote, or unapproachable. This might indicate to individuals around you that you do not value the information being provided.

An other technique to demonstrate your interest and dedication to your corporation is by proactively pursuing company enhancements. However, this necessitates more than merely identifying issues or pain areas. Ensure that your concerns are accompanied by solutions. Instead of merely bringing a problem to your manager’s attention, provide a potential remedy.

14. Get to know the workplace culture

From firm to company, the basic work culture varies considerably. When beginning a new employment, it is essential to get as much knowledge as possible about the cultural norms. Choosing the proper clothes for the workplace is an illustration.

Curameng advises observing the attire of your coworkers for hints on office-appropriate attire. Even if conventional wisdom may encourage you to wear a certain sort of attire, you should definitely glance around in order to adhere to business culture.

As common procedures differ, this might also have an effect on your communication patterns. In certain organizations, it is normal practice to discuss anything by sending an email or arranging an impromptu video call. In some circumstances, requesting a meeting formally through an administrative assistant may be necessary.

“Once mastered, these cues and others will represent the unwritten norms of your business and guide you to success,” explains Curameng.

15. Keep personal matters to a minimum

Because the purpose of workplace etiquette is to be courteous of your organization and coworkers, you should avoid actions that might hinder the productivity of others.

Curameng emphasizes that it is crucial to respect the personal space and time of others at an office, cubicle, or open area. “A ‘short’ talk about the film you watched last night may take between 15 and 30 minutes, which is hardly a beneficial use of time for you or your coworkers. You may catch up on the game from last night or your weekend plans around lunch or after work.”

It is also useful to realize that personal business includes more than simply phone calls and talks about your personal life. It is now simpler than ever to take a brief break simply pulling out your phone and browsing social media. However, what you planned to be a five-minute diversion might rapidly develop into a twenty-minute time sink.

Some businesses have particular social media rules for this purpose. If yours does, ensure you are aware of its terms and adhere to them. Even if there is no official policy in existence, Curameng believes it is necessary to think before posting, tweeting, or commenting on work-related matters.

She advises, “Never publish or remark badly about your job, supervisor, or coworkers.” Your employment may be jeopardized if these statements are relayed to someone within the organization.

16. Avoid the negative side of office politics

It is true that office politics are sometimes inevitable. Occasionally, it is required in order to ascend the corporate ladder. In reality, you are already a member of your organization’s political landscape by virtue of your employment. In spite of this, it is possible to remain optimistic with the following strategies:

  • Discover common ground with your coworkers
  • Avoid attempting to make people appear terrible.
  • Consider your position within the organization as a whole.
  • Prioritize company growth over individual “victories.”

Politics may have a good impact on the workplace community when employees collaborate to strengthen it. But the political environment in an office may turn unpleasant when coworkers engage in competition rather than cooperating for the greater good.

Curameng advises, “If you meet unfavorable rumors, do not join the discourse.”


It is natural to be apprehensive while starting your first job after graduating or switching to a completely different firm or field. However, it is equally crucial to realize that mistakes are acceptable; nobody is flawless.

Your coworkers will notice as long as you continue to develop and learn from your errors and make an effort to avoid repeating them in the future.


Work etiquette is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace. This code is put in place to “respect and protect time, people, and processes.” There is no universal agreement about a standard work etiquette, which may vary from one environment to another.

Etiquette in the Workplace
  • Stand straight, make eye contact, turn towards people when they are speaking, and genuinely smile at people.
  • Follow your office dress code, perhaps dressing a step above the norm for your office.
  • Your briefcase or bag and the things you carry in them say something about you.
Business etiquette is important because it creates a professional, mutually respectful atmosphere and improves communication, which helps an office serve as a productive place. People feel better about their jobs when they feel respected, and that translates into better customer relationships as well.

The 5 Types of Business Etiquette
  • Workplace etiquette.
  • Table manners and meal etiquette.
  • Professionalism.
  • Communication etiquette.
  • Meetings etiquette.
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Pat Moriarty
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