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Polish Up Your Etiquette

Our lives are governed by unspoken rules that guide how we conduct ourselves in social situations, like how you should listen to your music or podcast with headphones rather than playing it out loud on the Metro. The workplace also functions based on behaviors that are deemed appropriate and considerate. Practicing proper office etiquette creates a supportive and respectful environment for everyone.

While each office environment varies, here are some universal etiquette best practices for a hybrid work environment that will help create a more polite and productive workplace:

1. Respect peoples’ time and boundaries.

Your time at work is valuable and that means your boss’ and coworkers’ time is, too. If you want to schedule a meeting or check-in, make sure it’s necessary before putting it on someone’s calendar. Could it be an email? Do you really need a whole hour, or can you accomplish everything in 45 minutes? What does everyone’s availability look like? If facilitating a meeting is absolutely necessary, you’ll want to make sure you’re running an organized and effective one – which includes creating an agenda, outlining objectives, and checking your tech ahead of time.

Being mindful of people’s time goes beyond business hours. If you want to catch up on work at 7 pm on a Sunday, that’s your prerogative, but you can’t expect the same from your colleagues, supervisors, or direct reports. Instead, schedule your email to send during the regular workday. If you must email someone after hours or while they’re on PTO, include a note that acknowledges they don’t have to respond to your message right away. A short “This can wait until tomorrow” or “For Monday” will do the trick.

2. Hold yourself accountable.

Anyone can make a half-hearted commitment but remember that the statements you make possess power and require follow through. Throwing out a casual “Yeah, I’ll be in the office every Wednesday” means that you’re now responsible for being at your desk on that day each week. Your boss and coworkers are counting on you, which means they might schedule in-person brainstorming sessions or lunches around the commitments you make.

This goes for the way in which you join meetings, too. If you say you’ll attend in person, show up on time and at the office. Sure, someone could create a Zoom link and log on to the virtual platform, but that doesn’t mean they should – especially if this happens frequently. Last-minute changes can cause delays and frustration. Plus, it’s not fair to everyone else who did keep their word. The way your team approaches accountability can improve your relationships and increase your effectiveness. If you hold yourself accountable, your colleagues will likely follow your lead.

3. Treat the Zoom room like the conference room.

Casual Fridays turned into casual every day with the continued popularity of work from couch – we mean home. While there’s nothing wrong with sporting the latest in loungewear fashion from the comfort of your own home, you might want to reconsider your outfit choice when joining a video call. Professional dress code still applies, but you can keep it slightly less formal than you might dress for the office – think button downs for men and blouses for women.

Remember: the purpose of the Zoom room is to serve as a virtual conference room. Would you show up to an in-person meeting with a paper bag over your head? Probably not. So turn on your camera for your virtual meetings: it’s a conversation! Of course, being on camera isn’t always possible, so it can be helpful to be clear about why you might need to turn your camera off periodically. Maybe the handyman is at your house, or you focus better on your notetaking duties when you don’t have to look at yourself on screen. Take a moment to let your coworkers know what’s going on behind the scenes.

You probably also wouldn’t take another phone call while you’re attending a meeting in the office, so resist the urge to multi-tasking on Zoom meetings. Your email inbox can wait! Practice being a good participant by staying present and engaged. If the meeting is a hybrid one, don’t forget about the virtual participants. They want to feel engaged, too, so do your best to bring them into the room and make their voices heard.

4. Consider new ideas, technology, and situations.

We’re living in a world that’s changing at rapid speed which can feel both overwhelming and exciting. Two years ago, our workplaces turned upside down as we entered the biggest remote work experiment of all time, and now we’re experimenting with new hybrid technology and work models. For some of us, the thought of implementing even more new practices right now sounds exhausting. When a coworker suggests trying out a new CRM software or restructuring the marketing plan, you might be tempted to pick their idea apart or say “no” outright.

Before jumping to being hypercritical, take a moment to consider the positives that could come from trying something new. Even if you don’t completely agree with the idea, try responding with the “yes, and” approach. This validates their suggestion while opening up the conversation for additional possibilities. Sometimes you will oppose a proposition, so if you have to disagree with someone be sure to do it respectfully. To keep the conversation impersonal and aim to work together to come to a resolution, focus on the facts. At the end of the day, being open-minded and willing to try new things could lead to amazing new business and career opportunities.

5. Be present with a PURPOSE.

On the days you go into the office, be intentional about the time you spend there. Try to socialize with your colleagues by carving out time to walk around the office. Embrace the concept of casual collisions again rather than sitting in your workspace with the real or figurative door closed all day. While you do want to maximize your interactions, be considerate of how you go about doing it. Your introverted boss and coworkers likely won’t enjoy you popping directly into their office and talking their ear off for an hour. Consider asking someone if they have the time and energy to chat before diving right in.

For many of us it’s been a long time since we’ve set foot in the physical office, so remember that the rules of yesterday still apply today! You’re back in a shared space and that means it’s essential to keep your workspace and common areas clean and tidy. This helps prevent the spread of germs while maintaining a respectful space for everyone. Also, consider your volume when talking on the phone or chatting with a colleague so you don’t disrupt other people’s work.

Many people feel like workplace manners have fallen to the wayside in recent years, so you’ll certainly impress your boss and colleagues by brushing up on yours. To sharpen your manners even more, contact us to schedule a training on workplace etiquette!

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