When it comes to office etiquette, some lines might be crossed because we all have our way of doing things.
Whether you are self-employed or employed by someone, we all have office etiquette - what we consider to be acceptable behaviour amongst those we work with, and those we work for. So we asked around from some professionals about what they consider to be office etiquette.
The English dictionary defines an “Office” as the setting in which one works and not necessarily the building space. We were generous with the definition of the word, "office” because we realized some professionals such as waiters, site engineers, and remote workers do their work on physical sites or in alternative workspaces rather than office buildings.
We asked professionals in our community to share their unspoken office rules, some were expected, others funny, and others weird. Tell us which ones resonate with you.
1. Namale, 33 - Data Analyst
I do not understand people who do not clean up after themselves after they have made their tea in the office. You are expected to do the bare minimum; put the sugar bowl lid back on and dispose of your used tea bag in the bin. Why mess up the tea tray and move on casually like you did not do something sacrilegious?
2. Lo, 24 - Waiter
Some “black” people will treat you with disrespect just because you are a waiter. They are rude and entitled. They will shout at you, not realizing you deserve the same respect they probably demand at their job. That's why I prefer serving white people, they are usually more respectful and they tip well. I am working to pay my university tuition and will not entertain anyone who makes my work environment toxic.
3. Ssesanga, 40 - App Developer
If you email me, whether on my work or personal email, kindly follow it up with a phone call. Especially if you expect an immediate response or action. My other one is that if we fraternize outside work, let us keep it discreet. We have to keep it professional at work, please.
4. Musa, 44 - Manager
I expect my subordinates to follow up with me on work and feedback. If I have to look for you to give you work, you are not an engaged employee and I will engage you even less.
Fuzu has two helpful articles for employers who are struggling to communicate with their employees and for the unengaged employees.
5. Vivian, 28 - Receptionist
Do not mess with my day off. Show up on your work day so I can rest on my day off. Also, build a relationship with other staff so that you can request them to exchange off days with you if you have an emergency. It’s bad manners to leave your work unattended and the bosses call me on my day off because you did not take responsibility.
6. M, 32 - Washing Gentleman
Remove or wash your undergarments and handkerchiefs before you call me to wash your clothes. When I show up to wash and there's a terrible mess and underpants, I feel taken for granted in my job.
I’d also appreciate it if people paid me well so I can scale my business. Sometimes the people I negotiate with are only willing to pay so little because they consider it less valuable work. I wish they’d pay what is considered fair.
Find out if you are underpaying your househelp.
7. J, 18 - Twitter Influencer
Do not be rude to me on the internet when I share content. You can either mind your business or be nice, I need to enjoy my job.
If we agreed on the work terms, please pay me regardless of whether you recognize my hustle as a legit job or not. A lot of work goes into crafting the right tweet, just because it isn’t manual labour, doesn’t mean I am not working.
8. Robert, 35 - Building Contractor
This one is for clients, fulfill your payment obligation within two months from the completion of work. A lot of resources go into building projects, I am relying on completed projects to bring some cash flows. However, when clients go up to six months or a year without paying for work done, it's a huge inconvenience.
9. Harry, 34 - Lawyer
Bosses should be realistic and manage expectations when they assign tasks. When bosses expect innovative case arguments, I am figuratively rolling my eyes. Be realistic, I am reading the same cases you read as a young advocate. You did not reinvent the bicycle during your young lawyering days. Why the high expectations now that you are the boss?
The other unspoken office rule for me is, do not police me when I'm working remotely, just hold me to my deadlines. I am still working, but not at the office. I am irked by phone calls from people at work saying things like, “So today you did not work?”
10. Francesca, 44 - Personal Assistant
Do not interrupt my work every fifteen minutes asking if the boss has arrived because they are late for your meeting. Just like you, I too don't know what's keeping them. So let's all just wait patiently till they show up.
Was it relieving to realize that you are not alone in your frustration at the workplace? Or did you feel a tad bit guilty? Maybe you just burst out laughing at some of the office etiquette rules mentioned?
For the ones who can make a difference in their behaviour or work policy when they see these answers, please be our hero and do it. Also kindly share this article with those who need to see it; whether it is a friend, co-worker, or a boss you’ve always wanted to tell some things but haven’t been brave enough yet.
Till next time.