Office etiquette can be a tricky thing to navigate at the best of times, never mind when you’re starting your first job. You’ll be spending a large amount of time in your new work environment, so it’s important that you set yourself up for success and make a great impression over your first few weeks – and beyond!
Although every workplace is different, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the standard behaviours that most employers will expect of you. If you take these into consideration, you will be able to conduct yourself in a professional, confident and mature manner.
When interacting with your colleagues, it’s important to remember where you are. It’s easy to get caught up in the friendships you will form with your co-workers, but at the end of the day, you are at work. Swearing is a big no, so is making rude or inappropriate comments. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t say it in front of your grandma, you probably shouldn’t say it at work!
Stick to the Dress Code
Dress codes are increasingly becoming more relaxed in a lot of organisations, with smart casual clothing being the norm. This is especially true of businesses who are working remotely right now, where comfy clothes are a major perk.
That said, there is always a line that you shouldn’t cross when it comes to work attire, especially on video calls where you are representing the company. Find out what the rules are in your new workplace, and if in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Be on time
Good timekeeping and attendance is essential. If you think you are going to be late, make sure to keep your manager posted, giving them an expected arrival time if you can. Similarly, it’s important to adhere to break and lunch times – don’t take longer than your allotted lunchbreak. This is even more important if you’re working from home, where timekeeping relies mainly on trust.
Most employers are understanding when it comes to taking sick days, but this should be something that should be approached with honesty and communication.
Ask questions, read around projects that interest you, use your initiative, and share your ideas and suggestions. With an apprenticeship, you get out of it what you put in. If you come to work with an open mind - willing to learn and grow - you’ll have a great time and add value to your team.
If you’re unsure about something, ask about it – or see if you can find an answer through your own research. When using unfamiliar tools and techniques, you could ask a colleague for support, or look up online tutorials to expand your skills.
Every workplace has their own way of organising things, both in the physical space and the digital space. Try to keep shared documents and folders organised so that others can find what they’re looking for, and be mindful of keeping shared spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom clean and tidy. Nobody wants to have to clean up after someone whose soup has exploded all over the microwave. If you do make a mess, don’t worry, just clean it up!
Be Mindful of Unwritten Rules
Something that makes office conduct even harder to nail down is the fact that, unfortunately, a lot of the rules tend to be unwritten. Things like knowing when it’s your turn to make the tea round, keeping your phone on silent and not eating strong smelling foods at your desk. With a bit of observation, you’ll pick these up in no time at all.
The best thing you can do is use your common sense and good manners. Try not to worry too much about making an office faux pas. It happens to the best of us!