The 10 office commandments

When you spend more time at work than you do at home, having a pleasant workspace and colleagues make it all the more enjoyable. We’ve come up with a definitive list of the most important (yet, unspoken) tips for office etiquette to keep in mind while you’re at the 9-5.


Thou shalt be conscious of people wearing headphones

The headphones… while outside of work their sole purpose is playing music, or maybe listening to a podcast. However, in the office, they have also been known to give a polite signal to those working around them that they are happily isolated from distractions if they’re having a particularly busy day. There are a few rules here to navigate around someone wearing headphones. Firstly, since they won’t be able to hear you approach, we suggest approaching them in a line of sight first. Secondly, a quick “are you free to chat for a minute” will let you know if they are just listening to music for enjoyment or if they’re under a deadline and don’t have time to spare.


Thou shalt keep to meeting times

Meetings are a crucial part of office life, a productive meeting should have an agenda to ensure all topics are covered, and this usually doesn’t include 30 minutes of talking about what everyone did that weekend and how Sarah’s new labradoodle is going at puppy school. Having a personal element to a meeting is ideal in building relationships, particularly with parties external to your business. A good rule of thumb here is to keep personal talk to under 10 minutes and then get down to business.


Thou shalt not send unnecessary emails

Have you ever received an email from someone sitting in the same office as you? It’s likely to happen at some point, and for some, there might be repeat offenders in their office. We all already have mountains of emails each day to dig through, so if you’re in-ear or eye’s reach from someone you need to chat to, it might be more effective to be old fashioned and talk in person.


Thou shalt use personal devices responsibly

The majority of people are somewhat addicted to their phones and absolutely love the sound of getting notifications signifying someone is thinking of them, ringing them, tagging them in a meme etc. The sound of someone else receiving these and disturbing their work focus is likely to grind on their nerves. Mobile phone etiquette is crucial in office spaces, keep your phone volume at a reasonable level and use your indoor voice when speaking on the phone.


Thou shalt respect the fridge rules

Ahhh, the office fridge. It can often quickly descend into office chaos when people don’t adhere to fridge etiquette. The biggest no-no is touching other people’s food. If it isn’t your delicious turkey sandwich then don’t sink your teeth into it. Second, to food-stealing, is not cleaning up after yourself.No one likes a grimy fridge, so old food needs to go in the bin and spills need to be cleaned up.


Honour elevator manners

Elevator manners are going to make your awkward 30-second ride as bearable as possible. Let’s keep it simple; wait for people to exit before you try and enter and be aware that you’re in a confined metal cube where everyone can hear the other person you’re talking to if you’re on the phone having a personal conversation.


Thou shalt leave the all-important conversation until after coffee

Coffee is how the greats start their morning. Did Muhammad Ali not start his day with a double shot venti cappuccino with whip? Probably not. But let’s get one thing clear: to many people, coffee is the magical liquid that allows them to function as a normal human being. Let’s refrain from having important conversations until the coffee has worked its magic.


Thou shalt show self-control when office treats are gifted

At Waterman, we love a few boxes of doughnuts to be a regular addition to a Friday. But unless you show a smidge of self-control you could easily inhale an excess of 500 calories if you overdo the office treats. The temptation will always be there with what seems like an endless supply of cookies, cakes and doughnuts each week, but think of your waistline. Keep the treats to one or two and make sure there’s plenty left to go around.


Thou shalt stay home when viral

Unless you have a superhuman immune system you’re likely to get sick (and viral) at some point. There’s no need to be a hero and soldier on at work, you’ll be more productive if you stay home and rest and be back in good health sooner, rather than potentially pass on the virus at work.


Thou shalt avoid using passive-aggressive post-it notes

It’s tempting to leave a snarky passive-aggressive post-it when Bob from accounting doesn’t return the stapler you lent him. But, you’re better than that. Approach little issues in person or via email and leave the post-it notes for their intended purpose… doodling on them mindlessly while you’re on the phone.


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