Be honest - if you work in an office, it is likely you spend more time with your co-workers than you do with your friends and family. So it is imperative that everybody be able to get along, at least for the eight or ten hours a day you spend together. But not everyone has learned how to play nicely. If anyone is breaking any of the following five rules, there is likely to be disharmony, and perhaps down right anarchy within the office ranks.
Cell phone etiquette. Although this sounds like a no-brainer, it is best to leave your cell phone turned off while you are working. At the very least, turn the ringer off and let your calls go to voicemail. Need to make an important personal call? Step outside, or go to a vacant office to make your call. Nobody else wants to hear about your kid's pink eye infection, or the latest argument with your mother.
Email etiquette. You know the guy who copies everybody and their brother on each and every email he sends? Don't be that guy. Unless the information is relevant to their job, nobody needs a box full of your "thanks, I got it" emails. They would also be thrilled if you could get to the point without writing ponderous paragraphs. And if you are the least bit tempted to send warm and fuzzy forwards to every person on the office email list, don't do it. Just because an electronic medium makes it easy to send out a thousand pictures of your cat... that doesn't make it is a good idea.
Photocopier etiquette. The unwritten rule of the photocopier is: the one with the shortest stack goes first. If you are about to copy a report that rivals the length of "War and Peace", step aside and allow poor Andrea to copy her one-page expense report. The same goes for the fax machine.
Keep it clean. You know that joke you heard at the bar last night? It actually belongs at the bar and not at today's staff meeting. You never know who might be offended and the consequences you may later reap. You also run the risk that a customer or client is right around the corner, who may take such offense that your company loses reputation and future business. This same concept should be applied to personal photos or pictures displayed in your office space, the email you send, and the way you present yourself to the opposite gender in your office. The office flirt is rarely promoted, and puts herself/himself and the company at risk of potential lawsuits.
Put it back. Were you the last one to use the reference book that everybody is looking for? Put it back when you are finished. For that matter, put back the stapler you borrowed from the next cubicle, your assistant's black Sharpie pen, and your neighbor's copy of Sports Illustrated (the swim suit issue) that he brought from home. Nothing ticks off your office mates like a Light-Fingered-Louie. So if you borrow it, put it back.
Like all families, office families rarely get along all of the time. But by using common sense and having a little consideration for others, you can make the forty or fifty hours you spend together each week a little less painful. And if you do choose to break the rules of the workplace, well, let's just say you had better start checking your computer for viruses and your office doorknob for Vaseline, 'cause those ticked off co-workers know where to find you!
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