Annoying Office Habits You Should Kick To The Kerb

30/03/2016 12:43 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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bad office habits

We've all had *that* colleague who insists on heating their tuna and egg bake in the office microwave or whose desk resembles the place where dirty dishes go to die.

But have you ever taken a moment to think you could actually have your own annoying office habits? And worse still, that they could be holding you back professionally?

According to Anna Musson, etiquette expert from The Good Manners Company, there are some surprisingly simple yet effective things you can do (or not do) to help your office game, not to mention get in your colleagues' good books.

Here are her top 10 tips for good office behaviour (and yes, it does mean quitting eating lunch at your desk).

1. Stop stealing the good parts of other people’s lunches in the fridge

"Seriously, people still do this. It’s a thing," Musson told The Huffington Post Australia.

"It’s not that they will steal leftover Nasi Goreng, it’s more the Tim Tams or other yummy snacks you packed with it.

"So while your leftover lasagna is usually safe, your afternoon snack might not be.

"This is honestly the number one office etiquette peeve that people complain about -- other people stealing food from the fridge. My advice? BYO treats."

2. Stop turning up in your thongs and changing into work shoes under your desk.

"While yes, it's great to do a power walk across town, particularly from the train or the bus or whatever, arriving at work in your thongs is not a good look. Think about if you were to run into your boss or chairman in the foyer... it just looks bad.

"It’s also not good for your co-workers, if they have a meeting in the office with clients and people are arriving in thongs.

"If you do have walking shoes you need to change out of, this should be done discreetly in the bathrooms or foyer before arriving at the office.

"Alternatively, ladies should invest in some flats. You can walk in them and they still go with your outfit -- it makes for a good compromise.

"People actually do complain to me about this, because obviously managers want to encourage a healthy lifestyle for employees but when people arrive in their thongs at the same time as meetings are due to commence, it looks really slack."

3. Dress for the office, not for after work drinks

"Okay, so people get defensive about this, but women should really cover up their shoulders in the workplace. I don’t want to come across as a b-i-t-c-h, but women need to stop dressing for work in what they are going to wear after work," Musson said.

"I see it all the time. If someone is going out that night, they will wear a going-out outfit to the office, and while it may be guaranteed to be a hit after 5 o’clock, it's not professional.

"Can you imagine if a man came to work in a tank top, or shoestring straps, or something backless? It would be equally inappropriate.

"I know it can get warm in summer but we work in air conditioned offices. At the bare minimum keep your shoulders covered, especially in corporate environments.

"A man is always going to be well covered and so a woman should also. We want equality, but we want to be able to wear next to nothing and be respected. It doesn't work. Basically, the more flesh you expose the less credible you appear."

4. Stop checking your phone in meetings

"The greatest compliment you can give another person is your undivided attention. In this scenario, multitasking is a myth.

"Some studies say that having your phone in sight will take up to 30 percent of your attention. I think people need to stop treating their phone like the third person in the conversation. When you are with someone, be with them. Don’t check your phone, and don’t have it on the desk when you are having a meeting. Be in the meeting and give it your full attention."

mobile phones in meetings

Put. Your Phone. Down.

5. Respond to emails in a timely fashion (but it doesn't have to be immediate)

"I think technology has created a culture these days whereby people assume you are perpetually available. I don’t think that’s healthy. You need to be able to maintain work zones, family time and social time," Musson said.

"This is often not a good wash with Gen Ys and millennials, especially the latter who have had a phone since they were young.

"While it's important to reply to emails, it really doesn't have to be immediate. A timely fashion is better. It's also good to reply with an indicative response, for example, 'thanks Mary I will look into this'."

6. Stop eating at your desk

"Seriously, this is not only unhygienic but often smelly. Management expects you to be able to manage your time sufficiently enough so you can eat breakfast at home and lunch in the lunchroom.

"It can also create the appearance of slovenliness. If your superior is walking through the office and sees your desk covered with dirty bowls with cereal cemented to the side, it's not a good look. It makes them think, 'what else are they sloppy at at?'

"In my opinion, eating at your desk is right up there with heating a smelly tuna curry in the office microwave. An open plan means open smell."

7. Don't spend your break hanging out at someone else's desk

"In an open plan office, people ‘dropping in’ is a major annoyance, because you're unable to shut the door and put up a sign if you're really busy or on a deadline," Musson said. "And not everyone has an assistant who can manage your diary!

"Then people get stuck in a conversation when they're in the middle of something, and it messes with productivity.

"So don't have a break at someone else's cubicle."

8. Be on time

"I know it sounds corny, but punctuality really is the habit of kings. The meeting/party/conference call does not start when you get there.

"Think about it. If your manager is hosting the meeting and you are perpetually late for everything, it suggests you think your time is more valuable than theirs.

"If you are hosting the meeting, just start without the key players and then they feel bad when they arrive. Or you can lock them out.

"It's worth noting [being on time] doesn't come naturally to everyone. I have to work incredibly hard to be punctual, but it's important to do."

9. Take your earphones out

"When you wear your earphones at your desk the entire day, it just looks like you're not a team player.

"I understand it can sometimes serve as a signal that you don't want to be interrupted, but it shouldn't be your everyday practice, to shut the world out."

10. Try busting out an 'after you' from time to time

"'After you' is a sweet, sweet sound in this 'me generation' vibe," Musson said. "Let others go before you in the lift, escalator, door -- wherever you can -- and remember the business environment is gender neutral -- we show courtesy based on seniority by position, not age or gender.

"So take a minute to let someone go in front of you. Often it's unexpected and can be as nice as someone buying you a cup of coffee."



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