10 golden rules to follow when working in an office environment
Working in an office environment can be a great experience, however, depending on how you conduct yourself or react to difficult colleagues, it can quite easily become toxic. With so many different personalities working under the same roof, from time to time issues can arise. So, what are the 10 golden rules to follow when working in an office environment?
If you work in an office environment or you are about to, it is solely up to you to set a professional tone and certain boundaries with your colleagues. Most office environments are quite professional, so you need to gauge how the environment is.
If you want your colleagues to have respect for you, you must ensure that you make your own environment positive because all too easy, office environments can turn toxic.
This may not apply to all office jobs, however, if you keep to these golden rules, you cannot go wrong.
1. NEVER tell anyone your personal business
People talk about each other in offices, it’s that simple. You may confide in a colleague and depending on their character, they may use that information against you. It could be passed around the office or even passed to your line manager/senior management. It could be incredibly private and confidential but that doesn’t stop some people. If you need to talk, speak to family or friends. A place of business is not the place to share your personal business.
2. NEVER discuss salary information with your colleagues
Salary information is usually handled by someone in payroll or by the HR department. You should not know what other people earn and they should not know what you earn. If you do discover someone’s salary information, do not share it with anyone.
3. Limit personal calls and never use your work email address for personal use
If you need to make an urgent call, step away from your desk, find a private office and make the call there. If this is not possible, find an empty office, close the door and use the phone…quickly. Personal emails should not be sent from your work email address. The company owns the email account, not you. Someone in the company will have access to your emails, usually the IT department and in some cases, the HR Department can view your emails without your knowledge. If you need to send a personal email, do it from your mobile handset during a break, lunchtime or after work.
4. NEVER send or forward a joke email from your work email address or send a disparaging email about a colleague or client to anyone inside or outside of the company
You cannot be held liable for receiving a joke or offensive email from a colleague or an external source. However, once you forward it onto to someone else, you become liable for sending the content. There is also the chance that if you do send it onto someone else, the email trail will show exactly who sent and received it. This could end up in the wrong hands, so if you receive something, read it and delete it if it is not work-related.
Disparaging comments via email or text
Never send a disparaging email or text (or even jokey email or text) about a boss, colleague, co-worker or anyone inside or outside the company (including clients).
Why you may ask? Because if an employee or client of the company sends a subject access request or Freedom of Information request to the company with specific search terms, which may include your name, their name or a client/customer name, whatever appears in that search will be printed and sent to the person requesting it. Everything in writing should be kept professional at all times. If a colleague directly sends you anything that is not deemed professional, do not reply to it or forward it.
5. Before you send anything by email or letter
Whenever you send anything by email check that you are sending it to the correct person with no one else copied in before you send it. You can always try to recall an email sent internally within a company, however, this does not guarantee that the person has not read it before you retracted it. Check everything twice, and send once.
6. NEVER get drunk around your work colleagues
No matter how comfortable you feel around your work colleagues, you should be very careful not to get drunk around anyone you work with. Drinking clouds your judgement hence why it is illegal to drink-drive. You may find yourself in an awkward situation and say something you may regret in the morning or worst of all, you might say something you KNOW you shouldn’t have said or repeated. The best practice is to just have the one, then you will have your wits about you.
7. NEVER get involved in office politics or gossip about a colleague
Not everybody wants to hear office gossip. Office politics can be draining for everyone who has to listen to it and be involved in it. Think carefully before getting involved with a colleague who loves to chat too much. If they talk disrespectfully about other colleagues, chances are they will probably talk about you too. If you have heard that your company may be making redundancies, don’t spend your time talking about it with your colleagues. Senior Management do not always adopt the right processes in selecting people for redundancy so keep your head down and get your work done. Don’t get involved in the drama.
8. NEVER swear at work
It will undermine your position and not everyone enjoys hearing people swear, no matter how funny it may be to others. Even if a colleague is a bit sweary, don’t think it is okay for you to do the same, it can backfire.
9. ALWAYS be on time
You can be on time 100 times, but it only takes that once for someone to notice, then they’ll be watching you every day. Make a point of getting that earlier bus or train. Check travel information the night before work to see if there are any issues. It is much better to be 15 minutes early than 15 minutes late everyday. Lateness and bad punctuality puts you on the radar of colleagues as well as management.
10. NEVER undermine another person or attempt to humiliate or embarrass a colleague
You should treat others how you would like to be treated. It is not nice being on the receiving end of being undermined, embarrassed or humiliated by a colleague/co-worker/line manager or any other member of staff including clients. If you feel you are being undermined, embarrassed, bullied or humiliated in the workplace, click here for guidance or contact Acas for help if you have been dismissed or made redundant following bullying issues raised in the workplace. Don’t suffer in silence, it can lead to weeks, months or years of stress, anxiety. If you are suffering from anxiety, click here for guidance. For guidance on how to be more assertive, click here.
If you know you are behaving badly towards a colleague, remember it can very easily happen to you if you’re not careful. Be kind. You never know what someone is going through in life and one day it could be you!