Etiquette at the Workplace: Part II


The average person spends nearly 9 hours a day at work, which means the office space easily qualifies as a home away from home. Your co-workers, with whom you probably spend more than half your waking hours, have a huge impact on your life. It can be easy to irritate others and disregarding office protocol majorly affects productivity and stress levels.

(Read the Part 1 here)

(Read all stories by Serene Rayani here)


  1. Pretend there is an invisible door to a person’s cubicle. Always knock before entering or poking your head in.
  2. Make sure your phone ringer is on low or silent.
  3. Avoid singing, humming or whistling.
  4. Keep your cubicle clean, neat and organised.
  5. Be respectful of the other person’s personal space at all times.
  6. Let people know you do not wish to be disturbed. You can make signs or put post it notes. E.g. On an important call/ will be free to talk post 2 pm/ on an important deadline.
  7. Keep your conversations professional. Veer away from discussing your private life.
  8. Stand up and walk towards the entrance of your cubicle when you would like to politely cut an impromptu meeting short.
  9. Avoid strong perfumes and colognes. People have allergies.
  10. Treat everyone with respect, no matter what their position is in the office.
  11. Make sure you maintain a hygienic environment. Your feet and shoe should not smell. All personal activities like hair brushing, applying makeup, flossing etc should be done in the bathroom, not at your desk.
  12. Limit the personal items on your desk to 3-4. Avoid clutter.
  13. Take the day off when you are ill. Offices are breeding grounds for germs.


  1. Keep explicit or personal screensavers. Remember everyone can see what’s going on in your cubicle.
  2. Snoop around, open drawers; flip through files or books on any desk other than your own.
  3. Talk to yourself.
  4. Eat messy, smelly or noisy food at your desk.
  5. Curse loudly.
  6. Chew gum.
  7. Display religious or political material.
  8. Share office gossip. It’s a harmful practice.
  9. Entertain lengthy personal calls, squabble with your spouse or yell at your children. Go out of the office for these calls.
  10. Interrupt someone who is on the phone, in deep thought or working.
  11. Establish eye contact with someone when you would prefer not be interrupted.
  12. Take items from a person’s office without letting them know first. Always return borrowed items promptly and personally.
  13. Tell or repeat crude jokes.
  14. Peek over the top of your cubicle wall to see what the other person is doing. It’s disrespectful and an invasion of personal space.
  15. Don’t shout across cubicles. Either call or email.
  16. Tap your fingers, pen or feet, rock your chair, shake your legs or engage in any other distracting, repetitive activity.

The golden rule is to treat others as you would want to be treated.

About Serena Rayani

Serena is the principal image consultant and owner of Serendipity Image Management Studio. Passionate about her work, she believes that improving one’s image even in a small way can work miracles for one’s character and self confidence. You can read about her services here