The 5 Commandments Of Office Etiquette

Written by on November 25, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page


Each morning, streams of people in cities all over the world bend their steps towards their respective offices, about to begin yet another day at work. In most offices, people work in close quarters with their colleagues, so it is important that everyone be respectful and thoughtful over the course of the work day in order to make the office environment a pleasant and productive place for everyone. Here are 5 commandments of office etiquette to help you stay in your colleagues’ good books.

Thou shalt not borrow office supplies without asking.

How would you feel if your stapler was gone when you went to use it? Most people won’t mind lending you a hole puncher or a pen or whatever else you might need, but don’t assume it’s okay. Always ask.

Thou shalt not leave a mess in the office kitchen.

Kitchens see a lot of traffic during the day, so always clean up as you go to keep the kitchen clean for the next person who wants to use it. Wash your dishes and throw your rubbish in the bin. If you’ve spilt crumbs or milk on the counter top, wipe it clean. Leaving the kitchen in a state is definitely not a way of endearing yourself to your colleagues…

Thou shalt not be late for meetings.

If you’re consistently late for meetings and appointments, it will give people the message that you don’t respect their time. Do you like waiting around for people? Neither does anybody else, so if you know you’re going to be late, let the person know in advance so they don’t waste time hanging around waiting for you.

Thou shalt not interrupt someone’s lunch.

Lunchtime is sacrosanct. People work hard and they deserve time off to eat their lunch and take their mind off work. If it’s clear that someone’s eating their lunch, don’t interrupt them with work-related talk. Nine times out of ten, it can wait.

Thou shalt not eat other people’s food.

That yoghurt in the fridge may be just the thing to quieten your hunger pangs, but if you didn’t put it there, don’t eat it. Respect other people’s things. The yoghurt owner thought to bring a tub of yoghurt and you did not. Why should you get to eat it, however hungry you are? Plus, there’s nothing people hate more than food burglars, so you’re really setting yourself up for unpopularity if you go about stealing other people’s food.

By respecting the basic commandments of office etiquette, not only can you avoid conflict with colleagues, you can also foster a respect for you and your things in your colleagues as people will see that you are respectful of them and their things and afford you the same respect in return.

This is a guest post.  This article was written by office administrator Kelly Noonan who is responsible for ordering supplies and equipment, such as printers and photocopiers, for her company’s office.

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /


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