Following the principles of office etiquette can help you stand out for all the right reasons no matter where you work, explains Robert Hosking

Good office manners are vital in any professional setting. And as remote and hybrid options have expanded since 2020, we can’t talk about how we work without mentioning where we work. Research for the 2024 Robert Half Salary Guide indicates that 60% of administrative and support job candidates are more likely to apply for a role if it allows a remote or hybrid option.

So, the principles of office etiquette now stretch from the boardroom to the living room, adapting to our increasingly digital and dispersed workplaces. Let’s dive into how these principles apply across various aspects of our work lives.

Take Care of Both Personal and Communal Spaces

Maintain a neat and orderly workstation. If you work remotely or on a hybrid schedule, pay attention to the part of your home that shows up in video calls. In the office, be considerate in shared areas like meeting rooms and kitchens. Always clean up after yourself and use shared resources responsibly. Be mindful of noise levels for the sake of nearby colleagues who are trying to focus on their work. If you’re in an open-plan office, keep your phone on silent and use a headset when talking on calls to minimize disruptions.

Follow Your Organization’s Dress Code

Post-COVID, many workplaces have adopted more relaxed dress codes. Aim to represent your company’s brand with your attire. This is especially vital when interacting with clients or customers in person or via video. Not sure what’s appropriate? Check the employee handbook or have a chat with your manager. If you’re still gearing up for your first day, you can glean insights from the company’s website or team members’ profiles on LinkedIn. Remember, it’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.

Mind Your Zoom Manners

Working from home has its perks, but staying professional when you’re on camera is crucial. This means avoiding distractions like reading emails, scrolling through your phone, eating, or other activities unrelated to the meeting. If you have pets, keep them in another room to prevent unexpected interruptions (unless your team welcomes pet cameos).

When you’re not the main speaker in a video conference, keep your mic muted to reduce background noise.

Polish Your Professional Communication

Whether it’s an email, a report or a quick message, aim for a tone of voice that’s warm and approachable. Your written communication must look as professional as it reads. Avoid quirky fonts, random color schemes, all caps, and emojis, for example.

In our hybrid/remote work era, responding promptly is more important than ever since in-person follow-ups aren’t always an option. If you need to step away from your desk for more than a few minutes, whether in your home office or at the company headquarters, set an “away” status or give your team a heads-up.

Avoid Divisive Topics and Keep the Peace

Working with a diverse team means encountering a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. Appreciating this diversity and understanding that not everyone shares the same viewpoints is essential. Save discussions on sensitive or controversial topics for nonwork settings – and only if they can stay there.

Stay Home When You’re Sick

The pandemic has sharpened our awareness about the spread of germs. If you’re feeling sick, stay home. If you feel well enough to work but still show symptoms, work remotely.

Finally, remember that office etiquette isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. As you hop from your buzzing office to your quiet home workspace, switch gears accordingly. It’s all about being flexible and adaptable, helping you stand out for all the right reasons no matter where you work.

Robert Hosking is executive director of the administrative and customer support practice at Robert Half, where he leads operations for nearly 300 practice locations worldwide. With close to 30 years of experience in the staffing industry, he has extensive ... (Read More)

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