Workplace Etiquette: A Learner’s Guide

We’ve documented the journey from internships to your first big-girl position, and now, it’s time to learn a little more about the working world. Internships are fantastic ways to get a feel for an office and its environment, but when working full time, different rules may apply. Whether it’s wardrobe or Internet usage, learning the ins-and-outs of your office will make the transition that much more smooth.


What? No jeans?! Well, maybe on Fridays, depending on your company’s policies. Most work places enforce some sort of dress code, which could mean a shopping trip is in order. If you’re wondering what key basics will get you through until your first paycheck, opt for a fitted blazer and black pants. A basic pair of oxford heels will go with almost any outfit, and as you expand your wardrobe, don’t be afraid to let your personality come through in printed skirts and button down tops. Depending on your office, leggings and flats could be perfectly acceptable, but keep in mind the length and tightness of your clothing. A great pair of skinny cargos will take you far in the summer months, along with lightweight cardigans.

Break Time

Be conscious of what time you’re expected to be in for the day and what time you can punch out. Even though it’s recently been proven that flexible environments promote happier workers, some companies require you to stick to a strict 9 to 5 schedule. But if working 8:30 to 4:30 is easier to avoid the rush, don’t hesitate to ask your boss about switching up your schedule. Keep track of lunch breaks and mini breaks as well, especially during your first few months. Allocated break times are rare, but ten to one your boss will keep note of your break times, at least when you first start.

Internet Usage

Nowadays, most offices have security systems in place to monitor your Internet use. Stay away from Facebook and Twitter during your first few months and take note of others’ browsing habits to get a feel for how strict the Internet rules may be. Chances are, users will be flagged for staying on certain sites for prolonged periods of time. Shopping sites and auction sites are often blocked as well. Although lunch breaks are often open for perusing the Internet, take the time to catch up on CNN instead of updating your blog. Most companies’ IT departments have a visual track record of every site you visit and can read blog posts and personal emails.

Coworker Courtesy

In creative jobs such as writing, editing, design, etc., collaboration is key, which often means an open workspace. Being courteous of your coworkers is vital to building a good reputation. In other words, refrain from personal phone calls and disruptive behavior. If you’re lucky enough to click with a coworker and find yourself spending breaks together, make sure you don’t talk office rumors anywhere in the office, or even on your company’s chat system (since most are also monitored along with Internet usage).

Michelle McNickle | Image: Source | Sources: CNN Money

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