Work life is often seen as its own culture held together by implicit rules and formalities. So why doesn’t anyone talk about them?
Although 16% of employers are now fully remote in America (and as many as 26.7% of employees work from home), the vast majority of people still commute to their jobs and engage in office culture five days a week. Times might be different now, but proper office conduct should still be held to a high standard for the sake of optimized productivity, cooperation, and a professional-yet-welcoming work environment.
As professionals in the health and wellness industry, practicing good etiquette during work hours aptly reflects the healthy and happy lifestyles we seek to create and embody. Outside of taking a specialized course, however, tips for behavior around the office are usually picked up over time in a less efficient manner. It can take weeks, months, or even years to nail the ways you should properly conduct yourself at work…and a first impression from a single interview might be all you get.
To that end, what are some specific examples of positive office etiquette can you practice and promote within your company?
- Make Eye Contact
You’d be surprised how difficult it is to hold eye contact with even your most trusted colleagues.
A lot of people unintentionally allow their gaze to wander while speaking with a coworker, as it almost feels rude to stare for more than a few seconds. While it is certainly within appropriate conduct to occasionally look off to the side during an office conversation to avoid an intimidating glare, the inability to maintain eye contact with another person can be seen as dishonest or even portray a lack of confidence.
Next time you speak with a team member, make an effort to hold their gaze. Oftentimes, information is better retained and positive relationships are promoted in the midst of eye contact.
- Take Time to Edit Emails and Messages
Typos are underestimated in their ability to ransack your professional appearance; this is true for both marketing materials and work-related emails.
Before you hit send, take a extra few seconds to read over your message and catch any mistakes that may have survived your first pass. Because grammar mistakes are usually less obvious to spot compared to simple typos, it might not be a bad idea to read your writing aloud to hear how it flows. A cleanly-written message will suggest to a coworker that you care about the conversation and value being understood.
Both you and your recipient will feel more confident in the office when messages are clearly communicated, so make a habit of reading through those sentences an extra time or two before you send them off. You can also enlist an editing tool to do the perusing for you, but just be aware that they can miss mistakes too (or make bad suggestions).
- Remember Names
Chances are that you’ll meet new people pretty regularly at work, whether in the form of customers, new coworkers, or even visits from upper management. No matter who introduces themselves to you, it’s important to always remember a person’s name after they share it with you.
An easy technique is to say the name back to them as soon as you hear it. This will help it stick better in your memory and can help clear pronunciation issues out of the way early on. For instance, if someone shares that their name is “Alex,” simply say “Alex” back to them before giving your own name. Not only does this help you remember the name, but on a social level, this simple act is considered polite and endearing.
- Practice Proper Dress/Hygiene
Personal appearance is a big factor in health and wellness. As professionals, it should be our job to set good examples of a healthy, clean lifestyle each day we turn in for work.
Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it is in good taste with office expectations and won’t distract others from their work.
Dress code typically varies between workplaces, but good hygiene is always expected. Make sure your hair is clean, clothes are washed, and teeth are brushed prior to entering the office or workspace. Perhaps most importantly, check that you smell pleasant without exuding any overbearing odors (including overuse of perfume or cologne). No one wants to sit through a meeting beside someone with body odor or distracting fragrances.
- Use Conservative Language
You can say whatever you like in your own home, but a professional landscape is usually free of potty humor, inappropriate jokes, and vulgar language. Don’t subject your coworkers, who may be more sensitive than you, to disgraceful chatter.
Because a good office atmosphere is optimized for clean communication and respect amongst workers, you should always err on the side of speaking politely and mindfully during conversations. Distasteful words or subject matter can not only be distracting or offensive to a colleague, but it can also affect the professional appearance of the company as a whole, both throughout the team and in the consumer-facing end product.
Additionally, be careful not to overshare by bringing your personal life problems onto someone else’s plate. The office should be a place to focus on work, not another team member’s woes!
- Always Be Punctual
When you run late for a meeting, miss a deadline, or don’t pull into your parking space before the shift begins, you place extra work and worry on those who were ready when they were supposed to be.
Being late gives off the appearance of being disrespectful of other people’s time and commitment to the job at hand. For better timeliness, aim to give yourself at least 15 minutes of headspace before a deadline pops up. If tardiness is inevitable, always let someone know as soon as you can to avoid any miscommunication that might spark office drama.
- Be the Best “You”
You bring a unique perspective to your company’s team. No one wants to work alongside a coworker who stakes their behavior on someone else’s personality, who mopes around the office, or who shies away from productive discussion. Likewise, no one wants to see a team member constantly get sick, gain excessive weight, or come to work depressed every day.
A good office environment will encourage you to be the best you can in every area of your life—not just at work. Take care of yourself by eating better, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. If you struggle with a physical disability or mental struggle, seek out help from a professional. When you feel good about your own health and abilities, you can bring 110% of your efforts to work, benefiting everyone involved.
After all, taking responsibility for your physical and mental wellbeing is what health and wellness is all about. What better way to do that than to live it out loud, both at work and at home?