I do not miss working in an office for a multitude of reasons, but one of the biggest is coworkers. Not all my coworkers, over the years, I’ve had some great ones. I’ve also had some pretty shitty ones. It has led me to believe that a book on office etiquette should be mandatory reading for anyone entering into an office. And I’m not talking about a handbook, that puppy needs to cover an unbelievable amount of WTFness.
- Consistently being two or three minutes late to work. Want to raise the ire of your coworkers? Walk in the door four days out of five at 8:01 instead of 8:00. Most of us were raised with the understanding that if your job starts at 8:00 am, you should be there by 7:59 am. The one, two, or three minute infraction is not enough to raise the eyebrows of supervisors if you aren’t punching a time clock, but it will not go unnoticed by coworkers who will see you are the last one at your desk after they have already started working. It shows a lack of respect for your job, your employer, but most importantly, your fellow hostages. They have got their computers booted and are ready to start work while you are still fumbling to figure out where to put your keys. And if they need something from you before they can start work… well, now you being a minute or two or three late is holding their jobs up.
- Sometimes, it’s great to get personal with a coworker or two. It’s bonding and helps bolster friendships within the office. At other times, it goes a little too far. A woman I had worked with for three whole days suddenly popped her head up over my cube wall to inform me that she had to have her vagina surgically tightened. She then went ahead and explained why. Um, no, nope, not even a little okay. Some things should be better left unsaid.
- Want to check your personal email or rotate your Farmville crops before they die? Not a big deal, except when it takes up more of your time than your job and your coworkers notice. Or infects the network with a virus. Keep your personal email on your phone and take three minutes when you aren’t busy, to check it. Log into Facebook and change your crops out, when you aren’t busy. This whole busy thing is part of the problem. People will interrupt work, when they’re busy, to do these things and usually, that affects someone else. No one who works in an office is alone. Everyone has to work together. However, we all have downtown, it’s nearly impossible not to take a few minutes to pull our sanity together. Just make sure you aren’t taking those minutes too often or for too long and screwing up someone else’s work.
- Do not steal other people’s shit. I don’t care if it’s their staples, their lunch, or quarters from their cube counter. This is annoying and eventually, someone is going to figure out who is doing it and then, if you’re lucky, they will just treat you like a pariah. I once got charged by my job because of the extreme number of paperclips I was using. At least once a day, I would have to get a box and since all inventory was monitored, it was obvious that I was going through a ton of paperclips. I was even approached about not using office supplies for arts and crafts because I couldn’t explain why I never had paperclips. I decided to start marking every paperclip in every box to figure out how I was using them all. After about three weeks of putting sharpie marks on all the paperclips I was getting from the supply room, I walked into the office of lead secretary and asked to borrow her three hole punch. She opened a drawer and there were just boxes and boxes and boxes of paperclips. She’d been going around when people were on lunch and at the end of the day and collecting all their paperclips. Eventually, there were about seven of us that all figured into the whole had to be paid back from a government job for the paperclips we had stolen from us ordeal. The most interesting part; the lead secretary was in on the discussion about not making arts and crafts with office supplies.
- Stop with the judgement. This should be self evident, sadly, it’s not. When I worked in an office, every time someone had some big news to announce – usually a baby or a wedding – we were all expected to be happy for that person. One of my coworkers always sent a gift to the office shower, but never turned up for them (neither did I for that matter, but for a totally different reason). At some point, someone got snippy about my coworker’s lack of attendance and made sure that the coworker was aware of it. In what I can only describe as a meltdown, Snippy Coworker started an argument with Non-Attending Coworker about their lack of support for their fellow hostages. Snippy Coworker went a little too far calling Non-Attending Coworker an unhappy, miserable killjoy. At which point Non-Attending Coworker revealed that some two decades earlier she had been pregnant, miscarried in the eighth month, nearly bled to death, and had to have a hysterectomy, at that point, her husband decided he couldn’t stay married to a woman who couldn’t have kids, so he left her. She didn’t participate in the baby showers or wedding showers, because it was emotionally painful still. That led to a lot of team building exercises and seminars and all sorts of things. None of it was useful or on point. Snippy Coworker should have just kept her mouth shut. It was none of her business why Non-Attending Coworker didn’t go to the showers. My reason for attending was far less dramatic, I hate baby showers. Everyone kept telling me when I started having kids of my own, I’d change my mind and when I would tell them I didn’t want kids, they would say You’re young, you’ll grow out of it. How does a person grow out of not wanting children? It’s not a shoe size.
- Finally, bodily functions and wow, where do I start? We all pass gas from the top or bottom end. We all have to use restrooms. It should try to be done politely. Belching at the top of your lungs is more for frat parties than a cube farm. Sometimes, it can’t be helped, but saying excuse me is considered the appropriate response. Or if you know you have to pass gas from the bottom end, excuse yourself to the restroom or somewhere that people aren’t near. This isn’t just about the sound here, most people can smell. Flushing toilets is always nice. Not peeing on the walls or floor or toilet is also a good idea. Wiping fecal matter on the walls (why does this even happen?!) is just utterly disgusting and should earn people a caning. And ladies, no matter how much you hate your job, the janitor, your coworkers, etc., do not stick used feminine hygiene products to the wall – what possesses a person to do this?
I believe manners should be part of the training process into a job. Most people can work in an office without any problems. However, there are always those handful of coworkers that make life miserable for everyone else. These are the coworkers that we wish were replaced by rabid wolves, because they have more manners.