If you want to be sure that there is a professional and civilised environment for anyone who interacts with your company, then making sure your staff follow basic rules of workplace etiquette is essential.

Business etiquette is very much like personal etiquette — it’s a set of simple standards that describe how a person should behave when in the company of others. The only difference is that it applies specifically to the workplace.

When it comes to workplace etiquette, there are different basic rules one should observe, whether this is for sharing an office space, communicating via email or taking part in video conferences.

Making sure there is a set of rules everyone adheres to will ensure that there is minimal conflict between members of your team and help maintain your reputation with clients and providers alike.

1. Dress code is important.

According to the 2019 Choosi Workplace Report, most employers have formal dress code guidelines/policies, although they don’t necessarily enforce them. However, the majority of respondents believe that it is important to dress for success, look the part and fit into the culture of your workplace by dressing similarly to your fellow workers.

In other words, it is frowned on if everyone else tends toward a smart casual dress code with button-up shirts or blouses and pants but you show up in jeans and a T-shirt.

2. Lack of personal hygiene is a pet peeve.

In the same report, poor personal hygiene was ranked as the second most annoying thing in the workplace. The majority felt that warnings should be issued to anyone who consistently showed a lack of personal hygiene.

Remember that it is just as annoying if you’re leaving your desk every five minutes to wash your hands, or use an overpowering perfume or cologne that you constantly spray yourself with throughout the day.

3. Remember that you’re at work.

With so many businesses opting for the open-plan office, there is very little privacy for everyone — and that can make it difficult for even the most placid person to cope with. Excessive chitchat and constant complaining or whining about anything and everything are two things that people find incredibly irritating in the workplace.

Some personal conversation is all right, but don’t carry on about your life outside of work for hours. Keep your voice down — especially if your colleagues are busy with work calls — and take personal calls away from your desk. And don’t invade what little personal space your teammates have at the office! Ask to borrow things from their desk and don’t stand or sit too close when discussing anything.

4. Online etiquette is just as essential.

With so much business happening via email, it is important to maintain a high level of professionalism — especially as those emails are often the only communication you may have with customers or suppliers.

This means that you should proofread every email for obvious spelling and grammatical errors before sending as there is no way to undo that mistake. No one likes to admit it, but when it comes to work-related emails everyone is judgemental of grammar errors!

5. Table manners matter.

With almost half of the respondents in the Choosi Workplace report saying that they eat lunch at their desks, table manners are something that matter a lot in the workplace. All those things your parents lectured about — not chewing with your mouth open, not slurping drinks and tidying up any spills you make? They still apply when eating at your desk.

Another thing that is important when it comes to workplace eating etiquette is bringing food with strong odours into the office. Raw onion, fish, boiled eggs — those are all things with smells that can upset your coworkers. Keep this in mind and open the container outside instead if you have brought anything like that to work.

6. Stay home if you’re sick.

You might believe that you’re being a hero by going to work when you’re sick with a stomach bug or a bad case of the flu. But in an open-plan office, you’re putting your entire team at risk of catching whatever it is that’s made you ill. And they may carry that same bug home and make their families sick.

So if you’re fighting a bad cold or any type of illness, go to the doctor, get a sick note and stay home. If there’s important work you need to take care of, there are dozens of ways to do so remotely. Your coworkers will appreciate your staying at home far more than they will you dragging yourself into the office!

Workplace etiquette is an essential part of business culture, and following the above rules will help to keep your office an environment that everyone enjoys being in. Simple manners don’t cost you anything, and while you don’t have to treat your colleagues like royalty, a little respect can go a long way.