Here's some tips on being a good work colleague but also looking after yourself at the same time whether you are just starting out, have started a new job or have been there forever!
Bring sweets or cakes in occasionally but don’t be known as the only person who does it. And don’t have a desk full of chocolate bars, packets of toffees or, worse, boxes of cereal. If you have to have them, keep them in your drawer.
Sometimes we all have to take a personal call – if so, acknowledge it (“I’m sorry, I have to take this”) and leave the room. Keep your mobile phone on silent during office hours, so if you get a text or two, people won’t notice as much. If you are talking to a colleague, don’t stop mid-sentence to check your new text message – we’ve seen it happen many times and it’s very rude!
Be considerate of your fellow work colleagues and if you want to open or close a window or alter the heating or air-conditioning ask if it’s okay with the others first. People have different tolerances to temperature and what may be too hot for you may be chilly to other people.
If you are able to access social media through your work computer, don’t spend time during the day on Facebook or Twitter. All your posts have timestamps on them so you’ll get caught out by someone. And it should go without saying: don’t discuss anything confidential about work online.
Make a note of your colleagues’ birthdays. Some people may make a big fuss and tell the world when it’s coming up; others may keep it quiet or not think people will be bothered. If you know when it is, let others know and put it on your electronic calendar with an annual recurrence reminder so you’ll never forget. Why not print out our birthday list and put it on the notice board?
Try and keep your desk looking tidy at all times. Not only does it look better and you will look more organised but it’s also more hygienic (did you know about desk hygiene). If you want to get ahead, don’t festoon your desk with photos of your friends or family or stuffed animals, etc. This may make the boss subconsciously think that you are rooted and settled where you are, so you may not be their obvious choice for a promotion or new project. A small, subtle memento is fine, but a tidy, clean and functional desk will make it look like you are organised and ready to begin something new at a moments notice.
Offer to do a tea or coffee round every so often. Don’t be the only person that does it so that everyone relies on you, but conversely do your share too. Rinse your cup out after you’ve finished with it so others don’t need to clean it for you. Maybe suggest a list of how everyone takes their brew is pinned up somewhere (download ours here) or how about one of our personalised mugs printed with favourite drink details so they’ll never get to the kitchen and then forget!?
Be polite and friendly to everyone – this shouldn’t need pointing out but how many times do you see someone high up in the business food chain ignoring those that work near the bottom? As well as making both you and them feel better, you never know when you might need some advice or assistance that only they can give. Say hello or good morning to everyone you meet as you come into work, whether you know them personally or not, and after a week or two you will be greeted with a sea of smiling faces as you start work!
Sometimes very difficult to avoid, try not to get involved in office gossip. If someone is telling you or a group of people something juicy, don’t get too engrossed or make comments giving your opinion of the story – if the teller is happy to tell the secrets of someone else they can just as easily repeat what you tell them, which can lead you into a whole heap of trouble. Research has found that those who repeat gossip is viewed negatively by the listener so don’t let that be you!
Used the last bit of paper in the printer, toner cartridge died on you or just used the last piece of toilet roll? Don’t leave it for someone else – replace it!
Try to let people know if you are going to be late but don’t lie about a traffic jam if you’ve actually slept through your alarm clock – it takes a couple of seconds for someone to check the traffic reports online and you’ll be sure to be caught out!