The Basics of Workplace Etiquette: An Introductory Guide

February 6, 2019


A workplace functions best when basic rules of office etiquette are being followed by all employees.

But there are times when these basics of workplace etiquette just either aren’t understood by some employees or are simply taken for granted.

That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help remind employees of the simple rules and guidelines that should be followed, no matter what.


Respect for Everyone

First and foremost, it’s key for employees to have respect for absolutely everyone in the workplace. That includes every member of the staff, all clients, and even just individuals visiting the workplace.

That means being kind and courteous to everyone, regardless of any personal feelings you might have about someone, positive or negative.

This may seem like a very basic rule, but in fact, it’s so simple that it can be easy to forget in the frantic pace of the modern workplace.


Showing up to work consistently and on time is one of the most basic rules of workplace etiquette.

Even if you’re a member of upper-level management, you still need to make sure that you come into work on a set schedule.

It will serve as an excellent example to your employees and also communicates respect for your team and the workplace as a whole.

And poor attendance isn’t always the result of laziness either. There are several legitimate reasons for not coming in to work on time, such as medical issues or an especially difficult commute.

basics of workplace etiquette

But if these conditions are consistently getting in the way of proper job attendance, then you should look for ways to remedy the situation or speak with your supervisor about potential solutions.


Organization in the workplace occurs on several different levels. For extra tips, check out our article on the subject.

Your Desk

For one, your physical work area needs to stay organized, clean, and neat at all times. You may be tempted to make your desk an extension of your home, complete with snacks and discarded papers and receipts.

But if you find your desk routinely overflowing with documents and litter, make a serious effort to clean it up at the start or the end of every week.

When your desk and personal work area is clean, you’ll be able to work more effectively and maintain a positive state of mind.

Your Files

Just as your physical files need to be well organized, your digital files and online accounts need to stay organized as well.

When it comes to your work email, for example, make use of software tools that help organize your received emails into separate categories.

Delete any spam or unwanted emails that you won’t need to refer to later.

Any files that you have saved to your computer’s hard drive should also be organized according to category, project, and date.

basics of workplace etiquette

This way, when you need to access a specific file sometime in the future you can find it quickly and easily.

You’ll also want to follow the same naming convention for all files, as it helps to cut down on confusion.

Over time, your boss is likely to recognize that you’re reliable and organized on a consistent basis, and that you have a respect for basic workplace etiquette.

Participation in the Workplace Dynamic

If you’ve ever worked in an office before, then you already know that a job requires more than just the tasks listed on the original job description.

The human element is incredibly important to how an office functions. Even if your job doesn’t exactly require interaction with other employees, it’s still important to get to know your co-workers and have casual conversations with them.

Maybe you’ll find that you have a lot in common with your co-workers, from your educational background to your personal interests and hobbies.

Also, if you start to form friendships with several of your co-workers, then you’re more likely to enjoy coming into work.

Just make sure not to spend too much of your shift socializing rather than working.

In contrast, purposefully avoiding interactions with your co-workers could create an impression that you’re cynical and look down on your fellow employees.

Meeting Deadlines

Deadlines can be very different according to your chosen profession. Some jobs require daily or even hourly deadlines that can be difficult to meet again and again.

basics of workplace etiquette

Or maybe your deadlines are more open-ended, depending only on finishing one job before a new one comes up.

Regardless of your situation, you need to meet your deadlines to the best of your ability. This is workplace etiquette 101.

If you find yourself unable to meet deadlines on a regular basis, try to assess your own work-related needs and speak with your boss about ways to improve.

Following the Chain of Command

Despite how friendly you might be with your fellow employees and superiors, workplace etiquette demands that you still need to respect the chain of command when it comes to work-related matters.

In many offices, the human resources rep is the go-to contact for most employees when they want to make a complaint about their workload or problems with other employees.

If you find that there’s a problem in the workplace that is having a significant negative impact on your work performance, or a problem that even threatens to make you lose your job, you should check your employee handbook to find the proper method to make a complaint.

It may be tempting to share the problem with other co-workers or even to share it directly with your boss. But if those are not the proper channels for dealing with and solving workplace problems, you could just be attracting more trouble.


The basics of workplace etiquette are absolutely essential for every employee, regardless of where you work.

Familiarize yourself with these rules using this article, as well as by consulting your workplace employee handbook for specifics.

You’ll soon find that your place of work is a more pleasant place to be, one where everyone respects and understands each other on a professional level.

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