Done With Remote Work? Brush Up on Your Office Etiquette

With pandemic restrictions easing, much of the workforce has returned to the office for the first time in two years. That’s two years of Zoom calls, sweatpants, late nights, and later mornings. Making the move back to the office will be a bumpy ride for some. 

To help you hit the ground running, we’re sharing some office etiquette tips. Time to dust off those long-forgotten social skills and face the working world!

In-office etiquette tips

Ditch the casual look

You might be able to get away with PJs in a virtual meeting, but loungewear isn’t exactly office attire. 

In preparation for returning to your desk, you’ll want to take another look at your company’s dress code - even if you’ve avoided the PJ trap. Your best shirt might help you get into the zone at home but business casual means something different in-person, so now’s the time to treat yourself to a wardrobe upgrade. 

If you’ve gotten used to more comfortable clothes while working at home, you’ll be happy to know that current business casual clothing retailers have already taken this preference into account by offering more comfortable, elastic-waisted styles instead of strictly buttoned-up and fastened everywhere attire.

Keep it clean

Home offices can get chaotic. Many of us weren’t equipped for the sudden switch to remote working and had to carve out space where we could. Stuck in the living room or the kitchen corner, virtual conferences took place against a backdrop of noisy household activity as pets, kids, and assorted family members trailed through.

In that kind of environment, it’s no wonder standards dropped. But there’s no such excuse in the office. Your colleagues will not be as forgiving as your family so pick up your garbage, don’t spread crumbs over your desk, and clean up after yourself in shared spaces. Treat the company kitchen, especially, as sacred ground and don’t dump your coffee mugs into the sink to be cleaned by someone else.

Prepare for distractions

Home may have been full of noise and clutter, but offices have their own distractions. When you first return to work, it’ll be tempting to spend hours at the watercooler and join in every conversation. 

While it’s great to be able to socialize again, don’t make the mistake of treating the office like the pub . Interact with colleagues mindfully, staying aware of how often you’re taking breaks, whether conversations are office-appropriate, and whether they’re affecting your productivity. If your workplace allows for it, invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones; these will be a clear signal to anyone who wants to have a chat that you’re in the zone and unavailable for a grumbler.

Be mindful of your coworkers’ space

Some people may not want to jump right back into the office social whirl. They might be feeling a little intimidated after working alone for so long, and they may be concerned about their health or the health of immunocompromised family members. 

Respecting others’ personal space is something we learn as children, but it’s even more important post-pandemic when a lot of people are still nervous being in a crowd.

Be aware of the fact that some colleagues won’t be comfortable shaking hands, sharing pens, or sitting next to you in meetings. If in doubt, respect their space until you know their comfort level.

Embrace change

It may look like your old office, but it’s not. The workplace has undergone some drastic changes in recent years in response to the pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

From staff shortages to emerging technology, we’re entering a new era. An era in which employees have more sway but also more stress as their companies recover from two years of lockdowns.

These changes will likely impact your company’s culture and structure so it’s best to be prepared. It’s a good idea to meet with your boss to find out their expectations now that the office is open again. 

Ask if your role has changed, and how that fits into the company’s overall goals. If you’re taking on more work, find out exactly what that is, and how you’ll be compensated. Get those conversations going so you won’t be surprised by any future upheaval.

Show support

Be kind. We’ve heard it a lot over the past two years, but it’s good advice. Heading back to the office will be a big adjustment for everyone, from senior managers to new hires. As we dive back into office workflows, it’s important to have compassion for those still struggling. 

And that goes for yourself too - don’t expect to be at the top of your game right away. It’ll take time to regain productivity so patience is a must.

Managers should keep a close eye on their teams to see how they’re coping with the transition. It’s also important to reassess the company’s employee wellness program, and make sure support is readily available if workers need it.

Employee Productivity Monitoring platform, Prodoscore, gives managers a bird’s eye view of what their team is up to, so they can quickly see if an employee is falling behind. Offering complete visibility into digital workflows, Prodoscore is an effective way to avoid employee burnout and keep your team on track. Contact us today to arrange a demonstration.

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