The Leadership Blog

The Keys to Office Etiquette

accountability career goals change communication culture growth leadership professional growth work solutions Sep 16, 2023

I love sharing helpful leadership tips with you. Today's blog is inspired by one of my readers.  This CEO reached out asking for some help.  They’re grappling with challenges of workplace etiquette.  It seems that after spending a few years working from home, people have forgotten some social norms which are causing some challenges in tight office situations. I did a little research and found these helpful tips from  They may seem obvious, but lots of companies are seeing these same issues.

  1. Silence your notifications. When you work in a shared space, turn off notifications on your phone, email and messaging services to minimize noise.  It’s incredibly difficult for folks near you to focus on their work if your computer or phone dings every few seconds.

  2. Limit distractions for other team members. If you want to play music, make sure its only heard in your headphones.  We all have our own favorite genres of music, and you shouldn’t be subjected to mine or anybody else's.

  3. Take personal or sensitive calls in private. Respect personal space and boundaries by closing your office doors or going outside for personal calls.  Actually, I think you should make all calls in a more private space.  If I’m writing a report, next to you making sales calls, it’s hard for me to stay focused.

  4. Only include necessary recipients on emails. Only sending emails to the involved parties shows you respect your coworkers' time.  These days everyone is trying to do more.  Staying on top of an already cluttered inbox can be a fulltime job.  Stop CC’ing everyone. 

  5. Respond to messages promptly. Respond to messages and emails in a timely manner to let your colleagues know you received their inquiry. My personal suggestion is withing 24 hours. You don't have to formulate a full response immediately, but you can send a quick response saying that you plan to reply fully within a few days or week.

  6. Stop looking at your cell phone during meetings. Show that you're engaged in meetings by making eye contact and monitoring your body language. Put your phone away.

  7. Save personal conversations for breaks or after working hours. Personal conversations can be distracting and detract from work tasks. If you’ve ever led a meeting when others are having their own side conversations, you know how difficult this can be.

  8. Eliminate gossip. Avoid taking part in gossip in the workplace. Remove yourself from conversations that become unprofessional.

  9. Keep your workstation clean and organized. I saved the one I struggle with most for last.  I keep a clean building and office, but I confess, my desk is a disaster. recommends maintaining a clean work area by regularly sanitizing your desk and computer. Remove clutter and trash and keep your shelves and desk organized.  When it comes to my desk, I have, what seems like, a million papers strewn about.  I’m always working on a lot of different things at once and you never know when you’ll get the call you’ve been waiting for.  I can grab that piece of paper immediately with my messy desk.  However, when I clean it up and organize it, I can’t seem to find ANYTHING I’m looking for.  That’s the reality of the job for me.  BUT I’m trying to do better.

Maya Angelou said, “do the best you can until you know better.  Then, do better.”  Isn’t that the story of all of our lives?  I hope these tips help you and your teams do better.