Office etiquette is changing. With more relaxed working environments and telecommuting, some rules are being rewritten while others are staying the same.
Technologies are changing almost daily, and the workforce is more multicultural and global. The following is an update on what is and is not OK in today’s working world:
1. Social media: Unless it’s part of your job, stay off social media during work hours, and be careful of what you post. Nothing is personal or confidential anymore. Never post anything negative about your company or colleagues. Remember, the company has a right to watch what you do on their equipment on their time.
2. Telephone calls: Turn your cell phone off during any meetings. If your cell phone rings at work and you must answer it, think about where you are. If people are nearby, move to an area where you won’t be overheard or bother nearby workers. There is an unofficial 10-foot rule: If you must take a call in a meeting, excuse yourself and move at least 10 feet away. Remember to keep your voice down. If you can’t hear the person, call back at another time. And get rid of your “fun” ringtone.
3. Email: Your work emails should be formal. Emails are office correspondence, and you should write them as if you were writing them on the company’s letterhead.
4. Headphones: Wearing headphones all day (unless it’s part of your job) can seem antisocial. If music helps you concentrate and the office allows it, use your headphones but limit the time spent plugged in.
5. Cubicles: Open offices provide an informal atmosphere. Wandering over to visit a colleague can be rude. Always check or knock first. No matter how small or open, it’s someone’s personal space. Respect it.
6. Germs: Germs spread quicker in open environments, so if you are sick, stay home. Your coughing not only affects your productivity, but everyone else’s in an open office.
7. Smells: Aromas of perfumes and foods take over an open environment. Keep your lunch in the kitchen and personal fragrances to a minimum. Someone with an allergy could avoid your office, but they will not be spared in an open office.
8. Dress: With different industries adopting different dress rules, it’s best to “dress like the rest.” For your career advancement, dress like management. If you’re visiting a client’s office, dress like them.
9. Computer use: Security is a big issue for many companies, and most have computer-use policies. Follow the rules and limit job searching to your personal computer. The same goes for ordering last-minute gifts.
10. Multicultural: If you don’t know how to address someone or pronounce his name, ask. If you are working in a global environment, etiquette will differ from country to country. Global associates might run late for meetings, might not want to discuss anything personal, or may prefer to be called by a professional title. Watch, listen, and ask.
11. Gender: Working with a transgender person and wondering what pronoun to use? Use the pronoun that reflects what the person is wearing, or ask. It’s up to what a person prefers.
12. Responding: We are a 24/7 world. Though we all deserve some time off, it is important to get back to someone within 24 hours.
Welcome to the 2014 office. More conveniences, more issues.
A version of this article originally appeared on CommPRO.biz.