Workplace Etiquette: Are You Thinking Outside The Box?

Workplace Etiquette: Are You Thinking Outside The Box?

A new report from the Institute of Leadership & Development has revealed UK office workers’ most irritating traits, with poor time-keeping coming out top. To help you get to grips with some of your co-workers’ more aggravating attributes, Michael Cheary at looks at the top annoying office habits and how to deal with them.

Anyone who has spent time working in an office knows how important observing the right workplace etiquette can be. Unfortunately, however, a happy and harmonious environment can be all too easily compromised by the idiosyncrasies of others, be it annoying habits or a dialogue full of jargon.

The jargon King or Queen

Are you ready to think outside the box? Shall we touch base going forward? Let’s go for the low-hanging fruit first. However you try and escape it, business jargon has become almost unavoidable for the modern worker. Once limited to the lexicon of sales consultants and upper management, flowery corporate language now features prominently across a wide range of media, from job advertisements to the office and beyond. But don’t stay silent. If you simply don’t understand what someone is telling you, then let them know.

The latecomer

You know the type. They turn up late every day for work without fail. No matter how far in advance the meeting’s scheduled, they always seem to arrive five minutes after it’s started. There’s always one in every office. The best way to deal with tardiness is to pre-empt it. Schedule meetings half an hour in advance, that way the ‘late one’ becomes the early bird.

The clutterer

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who has their own office, you will probably be sharing your workspace with at least one other person. And, if you have particular problems with sharing, this may be a challenge. Find yourself sitting next to someone who can’t keep their paperwork to themselves and the challenge may be even greater.

To combat the clutterer, try tidying their things for them or giving them some simple rules, reminding them to ‘Keep It Tidy’. Nothing says firm but fair like a barrage of gently persuasive post-it notes attached to everything they own.

The desktop DJ

Depending on your role and your place of work, employees may be permitted to listen to music as they go about their day. If you’re one of the lucky ones, music can increase your productivity, and positively affect your morale. That is, of course, unless you sit next to the ‘Desktop DJ’ or, in other words, a frustrated musician convinced that those noise-cancelling headphones actually cancel the noise for everyone else.

Start by politely reminding them to try and keep the volume at an acceptable level. Music can still be their life, just not between nine and five.

The phone f(r)iend

Nothing says workplace rudeness like an important business conversation being cut short by a colleague’s phone going off. Some phone calls need to be taken, but if it’s their other half asking what’s for dinner, you’re well within your rights to say something.

Similarly, it’s good business practice to keep your phone on silent.  A ringtone says a lot about a person. If their ringtone screams ‘I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m still into Justin Bieber’, it’s probably best to keep it on silent anyway.

The no-names policy

When people have been at a company for so long that they’re practically part of the furniture, it’s easy to forget about the little things. And politeness is not necessarily restricted to remembering your P’s and Q’s.

For example, if there are new people starting in the office, even something as simple as remembering their names can go a long way. And, when it comes to e-mails, common courtesy would be to reply to it within 24 hours. That way you display perfect etiquette, and avoid any embarrassing moments around the watercooler/in the lift/other awkward social situations.

Don’t suffer in silence. Communication is definitely key. If a co-worker is making you irritable, then speak up and resolve the situation today to ensure a happier working environment all round.