Etiquette Rules for the Modern Work Life

The rules for workplace behavior have changed. With all the modern conveniences, connections and companies we have at our fingertips and in our lives every day, the old Emily Post rulebook gets tossed out the window.

It’s 2016, and it’s high time for employers to revamp their expectations, and for employees to brush up on their workplace etiquette. Here are a few new rules for the modern workplace:

  1. Put Your Phone Away

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but one thing is for certain: We are never without our smartphones, and why should we be? With its easy access to emails, calls and the Web, a smartphone can feel like an extension of your job in itself. The smartphone can be a hugely valuable accessory in your job, but in certain situations, it’s necessary to put it away.

In face-to-face meetings, having your phone constantly vibrating or ringing with notifications or calls is annoying enough. Besides being irritating to the people around you, constantly checking on your emails or texts is disrespectful.

The people around you have gathered to discuss something specific, and when you sit at the table texting and emailing, it says that you aren’t interested in what they have to say. It can affect your ability to participate in the meeting, your ability to understand the key action points and also your standing in the workplace.

Unless it’s an emergency or you’re waiting on an important client call, save yourself the negative consequences and put the phone away.

  1. Keep Personal Accounts Personal

Everyone has social media accounts these days, and most people have a profile on every network. That means your colleagues, your boss and your boss’s boss are on all the same sites that you are.

Keep your job out of your personal social media accounts, and vice versa.

If you’re really interested in your field on a semi-personal level – think a technology blog, portfolio site or freelance gigs – keep separate accounts. You can use your name while following and sharing posts about your company or field on your own behalf, but keep that separate from anything you do with your friends or social circles.

Most importantly, don’t discuss your job, boss, colleagues or clients on your personal profiles.

It’s too easy for employers or colleagues to search your name and see a negative post or comment. Depending on your company, having a post like that on your profile could be considered libel, and may even be a fireable offence.

  1. Consider Your Surroundings

These days, a lot of offices are adopting the open office layout. The cubicle-free environment can be great for collaboration on projects and team bonding. However, the fact that everyone is out in the open does mean there are new things to take into consideration during your workday.

If your office is an open concept, start to think about these things on a regular basis:

  • Limit personal phone calls or other loud conversations that may be distracting.
  • Avoid strong perfume, air freshener or foods that can irritate other people’s sense of smell.
  • Try not to interrupt. It can be easy to butt into a co-worker’s day because they’re easily accessible, but don’t take that as free license to have a conversation at any time.
  • Keep your area as neat as you can. When there are no dividers between desks, a mess can easily spill over into someone else’s space.
  1. Be Secure

The beauty of the hyper-connected world we live in is that it’s easy to connect to your job from wherever you are. A lot of offices are changing their policies to be more flexible for remote workers, and people are increasingly working from home or another location.

It’s important to consider privacy and security when you’re not in the office. Particularly if you’re using public Wi-Fi, it’s all too easy for hackers to access your files. When accessing company files or secure documents, make sure you’re taking the right security measures.

Along the same lines, make sure you aren’t discussing privileged information on the phone in a public place. You never know who’s listening.

  1. Be Professional

The general culture of corporate – or startup – America has shifted in the last few years, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still maintain a level of professionalism.

Even if your office environment is collaborative and casual, you should have respect for your colleagues and managers, as well as for your job. Be polite and use common sense when having in-office conversations and interactions.

Think about how you want your clients to see you and your company. If you have trouble seeing the line, try imagining that they’re in the office with you. It can be a good way to check your behavior.

Updated office culture and behavior can be tricky to navigate, since the line between personal and professional is less clear. With these tips, you’ll be workplace-savvy in no time.

The writer of this etiquette rules article, Anum Yoon, is the founder and editor of millennial money blog, Current on Currency. She shares her experiences and knowledge on how to have a balanced work/life while being smart about money.

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