Workplace Etiquette: Watch Productivity Soar!

Workplace etiquette is defined as the method in which we display manners on the job and how we conduct ourselves in a professional manner. Good manners increase workplace relations by allowing everyone to enjoy the work environment, thereby increasing productivity.

Listed below are guidelines to help promote workplace etiquette. It may be a good idea to post this information in a conspicuous place for all employees to review and/or discuss in your staff meetings.


  • When entering a room, office, meeting, etc., the person entering the room should enter with a greeting; a simple “hello”.
  • When encountering co-workers, visitors and/or staff members in hallways, elevators, etc., smile and speak to them enthusiastically. Do not ignore them.
  • When you need to speak to someone, first ask him or her if “now” is a good time.
  • If someone enters the office/room, and you are on the phone, acknowledge the person with a smile and signal to them that you will be right with them.
  • When waiting for an elevator, allow people to exit before entering; this helps with the flow. Again, the person entering should acknowledge others.

Office Etiquette

  • Monitor the volume and content of your conversations.
  • Keep personal conversations to a minimum.
  • Do not gossip.
  • Unless work related, avoid political conversations.
  • While eating at your desk (if allowed) or eating in shared areas, avoid foods with strong smells and aromas that will travel throughout the office area or which may be offensive to others, such as fish.
  • Keep workspace clean and neat at all times, especially in high traffic/activity areas.
  • Always ask before borrowing anything and promptly return the item(s).
  • Clean up spills and messes, especially in microwaves, and don’t leave messes for others to encounter.
  • Clear copy machine jams, don’t leave for others to repair your paper jams.
  • Assist co-workers when they need help.
  • Make a fresh pot of coffee, especially when taking the last cup.
  • Ask permission to place people on speakerphone.
  • Return phone calls promptly, within 24 hours or less.
  • When encountering a closed or slightly closed door, always knock and wait for permission to enter.
  • Don’t wear loud perfume/cologne and/or revealing clothing on  the job.

Customer Service

  • Greet customers with a smile. and enthusiasm “Good morning! May I help you?”
  • When answering the phone, be cheerful, the customer should be able to hear a smile in your voice.
  • Do not vent or carry on private, personal, and/or work related conversations with others in the vicinity of customers.
  • Do not use your cell phone or text in front of customers, unless it is customer related.
  • Be professional, refer to the customer as Mr. or Mrs.; ask if you may call them by their first name.
  • Ask if it is okay to put the caller on hold; apologize if the customer is on hold for more than 30 seconds.
  • Be truthful with the customer and be empathetic.
  • When dealing with an irate customer, remain cool; listen patiently; apologize to them; and if the customer is still upset, offer the customer other solutions, i.e., “I can personally call the tech department for you and explain the problem,” or “I will put you at the top of the list and expedite your issue to management,” etc.
  • Don’t forget to say thank you, it goes a long way.


  • Adhere to company policy – use e-mail for business related purposes only.
  • Send e-mails that are of good character. Reread before sending.
  • Be polite when sending emails, add please and thank you when requesting assistance and services.
  • Do not send overly large attachments.
  • Do not type in all caps, it is considered yelling.
  • Respond to all e-mails within 24 hours, even if you don’t have a solution, let the mailer know you are working on their issue.


  • Do not insult or ridicule co-workers, staff, leadership or subordinates.
  • Do not speak negatively about other departments and processes.
  • Give credit and compliment generously.
  • Be accountable, apologize sincerely, and always accept responsibility.
  • Be polite, say please and thank you.


  • Address conflict as situation-related rather than person-related.
  • Apologize when you step on toes.
  • Avoid raising your voice and/or using harsh or derogatory language toward anyone.
  • Avoid interrupting; consider other person’s point of view.
  • Keep disputes between the parties involved.


  • Meetings should be planned with an established agenda and timeline.
  • Arrive on time, especially if you are the spokesperson/facilitator.
  • Turn cell phones off or on vibrate.
  • Do not answer phones or text in the meeting; excuse yourself before you answer or return text.
  • Agree to listen as well as speak.
  • Be open to others’ opinions.

The most important thing to remember is to be courteous, thoughtful, and respectful at all times. Consider others’ feelings so everyone can enjoy the work environment!

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