Office Etiquette

Whether you’re searching for a job or you are currently employed, proper office etiquette is essential to make your way in the business world. Office etiquette includes factors such as your punctuality, choice of words, professionalism, attitude, and many more. We have all experienced what it’s like to work with an individual that does not contribute the same amount of effort that the rest of the group does, or had a colleague with a really negative attitude all the time. Not only is it unpleasant for the people around, but also it can seriously jeopardize your success in the business world.

Workplace attire is a simple yet powerful way to make a good impression for yourself. That does not mean you have to buy expensive business wear, wear stilettos and have a brief case, but it means you follow the appropriate workplace guidelines and represent the brand well.

Below is a chart I have created that outlines a few examples of what appropriate professional attire is. The balance has a great article you can check out here that explains and gives photographic examples of business casual, business casual for manufacturing, casual, and formal word dress codes.

Women Men
Hair and Face
  • Tied up or neatly brushed
  • Minimal/natural makeup
  • Clean, cut, preferably short
  • Clean shaved
  • Beard is groomed
Accessories
  • Remove all facial piercings (earrings accepted)
  • Limit jewelry to 1 or 2 simple pieces
  • Avoid wearing perfume
  • Wristwatches are acceptable
Top
  • Conservative neckline
  • (Optional jacket): Black, brown or beige
  • Blouse/Sweater: Conservative colour
  • Always wear a dress shirt, tie and jacket
  • Keep all colours and patterns conservative
  • Don’t forget to iron
Bottom
  • Keep skirt at least knee length
  • Tights/pantyhose should be clean and free of runs
  • Conservative dress pants
  • Wear dress pants that match your jacket
  • Always wear a belt
Shoes
  • Heels should be no more than 2 inches
  • Dressy flats
  • Your shoes and belt should match in colour
  • Wear clean dress shoes

 

As I mentioned above, once you have been hired and understand the culture of the workplace, adapt and follow their guidelines put in place. It is becoming more common for offices to have a laid-black culture where casual clothing is accepted Monday-Friday, while others still follow a strict professional code. I would recommend following the general guidelines from the chart above when you are attending interviews and are first starting at a new workplace.

Email etiquette is another important factor that individuals can so easily dismiss. The same rule applies here, when you are familiar with the culture and relationship with whomever you are emailing you may then display a more laid-back persona, but until then it is important to remain professional. Do NOT use slang when sending professional emails; it can very quickly alter your impression on people. Remember to use your manners- say please and thank you. Try and be concise and straight to the point. And remember to use correct spelling and grammar because although it is just an email, it is important to always represent yourself well.

The charts below are a general guideline to follow when sending emails. It is always important to make emails personal, so including the name of the individual in the salutation is essential.

For salutations:

Do not use Use
  • Hey there
  • What’s up
  • Hi
  • To whom it may concern
  • Dear
  • Greetings
  • Good morning/afternoon

For sign-offs:

Do not use Use
  • Cheers
  • Cordially
  • Regards
  • Yours truly
  • Kind regards
  • Sincerely
  • Thanks

Check out the A to Z of Office Etiquette and office manners here if you’re looking for more information on proper office behaviour.

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