Etiquette is defined as a code of polite conduct. When proper etiquette is exercised, most people will consider you well-mannered and even charming. When poor etiquette is exhibited, it may be hard for others to be in your presence. You may come across as crass, tactless, and even rude. Your actions speak volumes about you and even your work ethic; therefore, it is critical to display proper etiquette in your daily affairs, and especially in the workplace.


So what exactly constitutes improper etiquette at the office? Well, have you ever gone in the office refrigerator only to find your coffee creamer with only a drop left? How about lending out your stapler and never getting it back? Or, what about that time you let your coworker borrow your tape dispenser only for it to come back with an empty roll? Are you tired of listening to your coworkers annoying music, or hearing them chomp on their chewing gum? Within every office, there are unwritten rules that really ought to be followed.


Respecting others’ rights to a peaceful and professional work environment is a major component in staff morale. If everyone in the office is annoyed with each other’s bad habits, it will not come as a surprise if there is a negative correlation with productivity and quality of work. When people dread going to the office, it truly has an effect on their overall work performance. You may not even realize you are doing something that is offending others, so take a look at our 20 essential office etiquette tips to ensure you are informed on proper office etiquette.


Unwritten office rules

  1. Always listen to music with earphones or earbuds.
  2. If you think a question may offend someone, try using Google first.
  3. Don’t leave your dirty glass or used coffee mug next to the sink; always wash it, dry it, and put it back where it belongs.
  4. If you have a contagious illness, stay home. Nobody wants to be exposed to your germs!
  5. Don’t heat up stinky food in the microwave. Nobody wants to smell someone else’s dish!
  6. In the event that you need to blow your nose loudly, do so in the bathroom.
  7. Always say good morning to everyone. Kindness goes a long way in the office.
  8. If you need to make a personal phone call, talk quietly, or step outside to avoid interrupting others.
  9. Don’t take company office supplies home. Technically, this is stealing.
  10. Don’t have a conversation with a coworker with a mouth full of your lunch.
  11. Avoid smacking your gum so loudly that you annoy others.
  12. Even if your shoes are super uncomfortable, never walk around the office barefoot. It’s not a beach!
  13. Never leave your belongings on a coworker’s desk. Respect his or her space.
  14. Be sure not to overdo it on the perfume or cologne. Some people are sensitive to smells and may not be able to take in your scent.
  15. Avoid asking questions that are too personal; always keep the conversation professional.
  16. Show up on time for meetings. Arriving late indicates that you are careless and do not value your job and your coworkers time.
  17. If you brush your teeth in the bathroom sink after lunch, be sure to wipe away any globs of toothpaste or saliva left in the sink.
  18. Don’t bite your nails during a meeting or when talking to coworkers.
  19. Don’t use some else’s milk or coffee creamer without asking.
  20. Always dress professionally. Never look like a slob, or appear as though you just rolled out of bed and strolled into the office. Others will not take you seriously if you look disheveled and unkempt.

Bottom line: If you ever doubt that a particular action might offend someone, avoid it like the plague. Always practice proper etiquette and be professional in the workplace. It will speak volumes about your character and work ethic!

  • Nancy Dudek

    I have a co-worker who parks in my doorway (so i can’t close t he door) engages people in conversation with her back to me and will chat about nothing for 20+ minutes. sometimes i dial my phone from my cell and then pretend i have to talk in private.

    • Emily Jenkins

      OMG! I have the same co-worker in my office! Complaining, whining and gossiping all day long next to my cubicle.