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We spend more time with our co-workers in our office environment than we do with our significant others, mates and family.  So we have come up with some rules to live by during office hours.

  1. Thou Shalt Clean Up After Thyself

A common grievance between co-workers is those individuals who simply do not clean up after themselves. They leave crumbs in the kitchen, trash on the table, spill coffee on the counter, and they don’t mop it up.  Everyone has days where they are busy, or tired, or simply forget for one reason or another to throw out their trash, but don’t make it a habit.  Treat your workplace kitchen like the kitchen of a friend; you are comfortable enough to eat, sit, and talk there, but you don’t expect them to pick up after you. Nobody wants the reputation of the office slob, so make sure you don’t earn it.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Leave Dirty Dishes in the Sink

Even if you have a designated person who runs the dishwasher and tidies up the kitchen, it is unfair to assume that they should take on the role of full-time maid. Placing your dishes in the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink is simple and takes very little time. It also reduces the amount of time someone else has to spend cleaning up the kitchen, and believe me, they will appreciate you for it.

  1. Thou Shalt Use an Inside Voice

This rule in particular is difficult and awkward to address, so for the most part, people avoid it.  It is, however, important to work in an environment free of distractions, and the volume of your voice can be distracting to co-workers.  We often don’t realize it when we are speaking too loudly, so a good rule of thumb is to dial it back whenever you’re at work and save your party voice for the weekend.  If someone can’t hear you, they’ll say something, but often times they won’t tell you if they hear you a little too well.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Steal Office Supplies

Workplaces supply items that are necessary to job duties.  Tape, staplers, post-its, and pens may seem like small-ticket items that nobody will miss, but if you take them home with you too often, it can cost your company a lot over time.  Businesses order supplies in bulk, so if half of those supplies are taken once a month, they will need to be ordered twice a month.  All of those items add up over time, and since you wouldn’t steal from the petty cash, you shouldn’t steal post-its either.

  1. Thou Shalt Take Personal Calls Outside

If you have an office, this rule does not apply to you as much as those that work in a cubicle or with multiple people around them.  However, it is important to keep your personal life separate from your work life, not just because it can violate company policy to take personal calls on work time, but also because it can make your co-workers uncomfortable.  You might not mind everyone in the office knowing about your bunion removal procedure next Tuesday, but they might…

  1. Thou Shalt Not Microwave Smelly Food

One of the main complaints office workers have about kitchen etiquette is their colleagues’ willingness to heat up smelly food in the microwave.  Not only does it make the kitchen, and perhaps the entire office stink, but it also stinks up the microwave. The leftover salmon you brought for lunch might smell great to you, but it doesn’t smell great to anybody else.  It is best to avoid heating up any type of seafood in the office if possible, and you must be sensitive to your co-workers’ desires.  Their noses will thank you for your consideration.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Steal a Colleague’s Lunch

This rule is simple and straightforward, and most of you are probably scratching your heads wondering; how is this on the list?  People’s lunches, snacks and beverages are stolen from the office fridge more often than you might think.  Occasionally it’s harmless, you might have mistaken someone’s refrigerated soda as one of the office beverages by accident, and you cowered instead of coming forward when Linda demanded to know who stole her Sprite.  However, more often than not, lunch thieves do it intentionally.  There’s no excuse for stealing someone’s lunch, so don’t.

  1. Thou Shalt Practice Good Hygiene

A little deodorant and a shower goes a long way.  Just saying!

  1. Thou Shalt Not Bathe in Cologne (Or Perfume)

When it comes to scents, a little goes a long way.  Keep in mind when you’re spritzing that some people in the office have allergies to fragrances.  This doesn’t mean you can’t use them, just use them sparingly, and no need to re-apply midday.  Even if you can’t smell your perfume on yourself anymore doesn’t mean that others can’t.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Hit “Reply All”

Oh, the dreaded “reply all.” You intended to send that snarky comment to your office buddy, but end up hitting the wrong button, and everyone receives it.  The safest way to avoid making this mistake is to simply not send the email.   If you have a comment that could be perceived the wrong way by someone else, say it in person or don’t say it at all.

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