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10 Unwritten Rules at Work

Some rules are better left unsaid.

When it comes to workplace etiquette, you might find that a number of things aren’t written in ink. Sure, your employee handbook covers the formalities (from calling in sick to handing in your notice) – but what about the guidelines that everyone knows, but no one really talks about?

To help you overcome any workplace faux-pas, here are 10 unwritten rules at work that you should always follow:
1. Taking someone’s food from the fridge

Come on, Brenda. You know that butter doesn’t belong to you. Sure, you might only be borrowing ‘a little bit’ – but those rogue toast crumbs you left around the edges are a dead giveaway.

Not. Fooling. Anyone.

Rule to follow: Don’t steal people’s food.

2. Pretending not to notice your colleague running for the lift

Face it, awkward small talk is part of your daily routine.

Embrace it – and stop making people wait three minutes for another lift while you ‘nonchalantly’ look at your phone/the floor/literally anywhere else.

Rule to follow: Be a good person. Hold the lift.

3. Including the entire company in your lengthy email exchange

What better place to voice your opinions about the latest digital marketing strategies than in a back-and-forth email chain with 40 uninterested colleagues?

Anywhere. Anywhere is better than that. If it doesn’t concern everyone involved, replying to all is by no means a necessary requirement. In fact, it’s just downright annoying.

Rule to follow: Only reply to all if you actually need to.

4. Eating (or microwaving) literally anything that smells bad

See also: fish and eggs. They’re basically banned from all workplaces that house humans with noses. Didn’t you get the memo?

If you have to eat them at work, at least make sure:
  1. No one is around, and
  2. You don’t eat them at your desk. It’s just common courtesy.
Rule to follow: Think before you eat (and reheat).

5. Leaving your dirty dishes in the sink

There’s a cleaner who does that sort of thing eventually, right? Nope, that’s just your colleague who can’t stand the smell of your leftover lasagne any longer.

PSA: there is such a thing as too much garlic.

Rule to follow: Wash up your stuff.

6. Scheduling meetings with no purpose

Holding a meeting with no reason is the workplace equivalent to inviting all of your friends to a birthday party with no cake or balloons. Except the cake is an agenda, and the balloons are an end goal. Or maybe some kind of post-it notes.

Your colleagues are taking the time out of their day to meet with you. Make sure it’s relevant.

Rule to follow: Only schedule meetings with clear purposes. And be selective with who you invite.

7. Indulging in office gossip (or you know, starting it)

Office gossip is always dangerous territory, whether it’s that you’ve got ‘inside info’ about who’s about to be sacked, or a big hunch about the biggest office romance.

No matter how you voice it – it’ll never make you look good.

Rule to follow: Don’t spread rumours. Rumours are bad.

8. Making a cup of tea and not asking anyone else if they want anything

Also, waiting for someone else to go so you never have to do the rounds. You might think you’re sly – but everybody knows you’re not pulling your weight.

And as payback, they’re totally putting the milk in first on each cup they make you. Can’t say you don’t deserve it.

Rule to follow: Offer drinks. It takes like two minutes.

9. Listening to loud music

OK, so you’re really into the Moana soundtrack right now. Like really.

In fact – so much that you’ve decided to play it on loud, on repeat, all day every day. Because how else will you learn the words off by heart? Through your headphones, at a reasonable volume. That’s how.

Rule to follow: If anyone else can hear it, turn the music down.

10. Just generally being loud

Typing. Talking. Screaming. Singing. Laughing.

If you do any of the above at a tone that could shatter glass, you’re probably being too noisy. Your colleagues are trying to work, not listen to the worst one-man/woman band ever.

Rule to follow: Keep the decibels to a minimum.  

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