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Small Business News: Polling: A crash course in office etiquette
Almost every organization could benefit from a crash course in office etiquette. After all, the majority of Canadians spend a significant amount of time at work—most more than 40 hours each week. So it isn’t a wonder that, for some, the office is considered to be a home away from home. The downside? Getting too comfortable has caused some to forget their manners.An office environment where people are not “minding their P’s and Q’s” can be distracting at the very least. Employees who work in an atmosphere where courtesy and respect are a must are happier, more satisfied and, in turn, more productive. Below are a few office etiquette basics to implement in your small business.

Office etiquette basics
Unfortunately, most of us have witnessed behaviours in the office that make us cringe. While the list is long, here are some big no-no’s and suggestions on how to curb these office etiquette snafus:

  • Halt the grooming: Employees should not be clipping or filing nails, applying make-up, fixing hair or taking care of dental hygiene in public areas of the office. This sort of behaviour can make others feel uncomfortable and should be reserved for the bathroom. Encourage personal grooming but in the appropriate whereabouts. A basket of individual-sized toiletry items such as nail files, dental floss and other grooming essentials should be made available to employees and guests—but in the bathroom only.
  • Quiet please: Does the thought of a teammate’s overly loud office chatter, incessant throat clearing or obnoxious mobile phone ringtone bring to life the expression “nails on a chalkboard?” When working in close proximity to others, the “little” noises and nuances can be enough to drive someone wild.  A two-fold approach may prove most helpful. Provide ear plugs to employees who are easily distracted while encouraging the noisemakers of the group to practice good etiquette—meaning, take notice of their earsplitting behaviours, cease and desist.
  • Olfactory offenders: Strong smells like cigarette smoke, heavy perfume or—worse yet—body odor can be offensive and hard to stomach for some. A friendly reminder to go light on the perfume or forgo it altogether and to practice good hygiene can go a long way—particularly after lunch-hour workouts! A basket of individually wrapped chewing gum or peppermints can promote and encourage good hygiene, which clients and fellow employees alike will appreciate.
  • Kitchen cleanliness: Kitchen cleanliness is a big one in most offices. Whether it’s an explosion in the microwave or a science experiment growing in the refrigerator, kitchen messes can be a huge source of contention. Encourage employees to take responsibility and clean up after themselves. And try assigning employees or departments to kitchen duty each day. A personal stake in the matter can go a long way in making others own up to their responsibility. Reward your kitchen crew for a job well done with a small token of appreciation like a company logo’d t-shirt or tumbler.

Remember, employees spend a vast majority of their time in the office and guests visit. Although we may start to feel like letting our guard down and settling in as we do at home, the office is not the place. A steady stream of respect for others and consideration will go a long way in creating an office environment that everyone will feel more comfortable in.

Miller, G.E. “The U.S. Is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World – When Do We Draw the Line?” The U.S. Is the Most Overworked Nation in the World. N.p., 12 Oct. 2010. Web. 25 June 2013.

Cornett, J.E. “How Often Should People Have Etiquette Training in the Workplace?Small Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2013.

Office Etiquette Fail: Things to Stop Doing Today.” Inc.com. N.p., 14 June 2013. Web. 25 June 2013.

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