THE time has come when many of us are returning to our cubicles and retiring our home offices.
With communal office spaces comes a certain expectation of behaviors.
Etiquette expert and author Jacqueline Whitmore—who founded the business etiquette consulting firm The Protocol School of Palm Beach—spoke to The Sun about proper office conduct and what’s considered tacky.
In the workforce, the primary form of communication is via email.
Employees, especially young ones, often second guess their email writing skills and wonder whether they’re being too casual or too formal.
As for etiquette, Whitmore says the first email should always have a greeting like “Hello,” “Dear,” or “Good morning.”
“And 99.9% of the time, it’s ok to use the first name only,” Whitmore adds.
“Here in the US specifically, it’s much more casual and everyone is on a first-name basis with their bosses even.
“So, unless someone addresses you by Mr. or Ms. in their first email—which might mean there is a level of formality that should be maintained until you get to know one another—it’s fairly safe to say that you can use their first name.”
She says you can also pick up on certain cues—like if someone signs off their emails by including their last name, that’s a sign to address them by their surname.
“Don’t send off a hot email. You need to simmer down, think about what you’re writing, read it, reread it, print it out. Let it sit and maybe have someone else look it over first.”
She adds that it’s in poor taste to not return an email or neglect following up after you said you would.
Because most offices involve cubicles or open floor plans, your coworkers are privy to much of what you’re doing at your desk.
Whitmore says there are a few guidelines to follow.
Don’t eat smelly foods at your desk.
Don’t put people on speakerphone, even if it is a work call.
“And I know personal calls can’t be avoided all the time, but try to keep them to a minimum and don’t speak so loudly when on these calls because no one wants to hear your business.”
She also says she’s received complaints about employees removing their shoes at their desk. Don’t be that person.