Office Etiquette – A thorough guide


After nearly 3 years in an office admin position (Yes — I’m suprised I’m still here too) I’ve learnt a few things about how an office does and doesn’t run smoothly. The one key to avoiding stressful deadlines, cat fights and overal office mayhem is and maybe always will be, office staff.
I’ve developed a few key principles that if adhered to — could solve almost all workplace tension.
Obey and enjoy.
Principle No. 1 ~ An awareness of office smells
This principle pertains to any smells that arise in the office.
  • The food that is consumed by staff members on site. Garlic, tuna etc should be avoided at all costs. While you may enjoy your tuna sandwhich, 90% of the staff HATE the smell of tuna and you will remove yourself from their ‘good books’ for the rest of the afternoon while your lunch stinks out the lunchroom and perhaps the rest of the office.
  • Ladies, even though your killer stiletto’s are giving you blisters — you might be unaware of the peutrid odour which your workmates can now smell after you have kicked off your shoes under your desk!

Principle No. 2 ~ An awareness of stationery supplies and people’s attachments to said stationery.
Something to note…. For some unknown reason people are very fascinated and attached to some, if not all, stationery items. While you may not give two hoots about pens, or bulldog clips, or staple removers or post it notes — others do.

  • Keep an eye on your own stationery requirements — it’s not the receptionist’s fault if she hasn’t come and given your stationery a personal audit every couple of days. If you are about to run out of pens — do something about it. And don’t be upset when the stationery company has something on backorder. You should have handled this a while ago to avoid being without staples.
  • In regards to borrowing/stealing others stationery. Depending on your relationship with the colleague the general rule is to NEVER BORROW STATIONERY. Unless you are adament about returning your borrowed items — most people find it frustrating to have post its stolen without their knowledge and people are still frustrated if you asked to borrow a pen, but still never returned it.

Principle No. 3 ~ An awareness of people’s feelings

We all know that feeling when you walk into a room and you can tell that the conversation topic has just been altered because of your presence and it’s not a nice feeling.

  • If you must gossip about other people in the office — always always do it outside of the office, on a lunch break (not in the tea room). NEVER on email.
  • There is no reason to treat people “below you” as if they are below you.
  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Being sensitive to political, religious etc discussions as your “views” could be quite offensive.
  • Being aware and considerate of staff members dietry or similar conditions when you offer chocolate/lollies around
  • “Fundraising” Lollies and chocolate etc — please do not peer pressure us into buying them.

Shouldn’t be too hard to follow right?

P.S Keep desk mess to a minimum… you will send your neat freak colleagues crazy just by looking at what you call ‘an ideal working condition’.

One thought on “Office Etiquette – A thorough guide

  1. pretty good list steffany, i would add:

    1. don’t play your music at the top volume of your tinny speakers for all around you to “enjoy”. god invented headphones for a reason.

    2. stop stealing my stuff out of the office kitchen! seriously, just ask if you want a coffee, but if i have to personally buy it and make it every morning, it’s a little annoying when someone anonymously helps themselves without pitching in.

    can you feel the crankiness? 😛

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