Today is the day you’ve been waiting for all year long, the beginning of National Business Etiquette Week. You might be thinking all of these random national observances are pointless. However, it’s also National Cheese Day today and we can all agree that cheese must be put on the highest of pedestals.
Cheesy jokes aside, business etiquette is important and tends to fall by the wayside from time to time. You never really notice poor business etiquette until you’re on the receiving end of it. That’s why we are here to provide insight to the most frustrating business etiquette topics. Feel free to send this article to a co-worker that needs to take note.
Be on Time
This one should be obvious. Showing up late sends a message that your time is more important that everyone else’s. Don’t be the person 15 minutes late to the conference call. Moving on.
Don’t you love getting out of an hour long meeting and your first thought is “that could’ve easily been an email”? In business time is money, so be mindful of everyone’s time. Don’t include people in meetings that are irrelevant to their role.
Many businesses have casual Fridays or are forgoing traditional professional dress codes all together. Don’t ruin it for everyone by exploiting these policies! If you wouldn’t wear it to Sunday brunch at your grandma’s, then think twice about wearing it to work. One solution to this is providing employees with custom apparel with your company logo on it. You can’t go wrong with custom polos and custom sweatshirts for casual office apparel.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that email is not new technology based on the way people use it. An email is NOT an instant message or text. It also doesn’t need to be a dissertation. Your email should get your point across in professional, succinct, and informative manner.
Wordiness aside, don’t “reply all” unless your response actually needs to be viewed by everyone in an email chain. We all get enough emails as it is, so review the recipients before sending. Also, don’t feel pressured to respond to an email received after working hours or on the weekend if it’s not essential. That’s your YOU time.
Being close with your co-workers is great, but sometimes it can be taken too far. There’s no need to divulge intimate details from your personal life at work. The workplace is a professional setting and should be treated as such. Feel free to share stories from the weekend but save details from your love life or family issues for another venue.
Answering the tough Questions
Now that we’ve covered the major topics, it’s time for the rapid fire round of business etiquette questions.
1. Should I add my co-workers on social media?
This is up to you. If your social media profiles represent you in a positive light, then you should be good to go. However, if there’s anything on there that you wouldn’t want your boss to see then think twice. If you’ve had your profiles for a long time, there may be some regrettable things out there that you’ve forgotten about. You’ll probably want to delete those ill-advised poetry attempts from 2007 and untag yourself from those party pictures from college.
2. Should I date a co-worker?
Your employer probably has a policy on this, but the general consensus is that this is a bad idea. Workplace romance can influence business decisions and be detrimental to productivity. Not to mention you don’t want to end up sitting next to your ex all day every day.
3. How should I communicate when conducting business internationally?
Generally, you will want to err on the side of formality and use full names and titles to avoid unintentionally offending anyone.
4. Can I eat at my desk?
If your workplace has a breakroom or cafeteria its usually a better idea to have your meals in there. Sometimes it can be hard to find time to leave your desk though. If you need to have lunch at your desk, choose a meal without a strong odor and don’t throw your waste out into your personal trash bin. No one wants to smell your leftover egg salad all afternoon.
5. When should I pick up the bill?
For business meals or outings, the general rule of thumb is to cover the bill if you were the one that did the inviting.
6. Can I use my phone at work?
Your employer might have a policy on this as well. If not, try to only check your phone during down times. Also, don’t bring it into meetings and make sure the sound is always off.
7. Should I order shots at happy hour?
No. Just, no.
8. Should I do karaoke at happy hour?
You didn’t listen to my last response, did you? Go ahead, sing your heart out.