Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA
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29th November 2019 | 4 min read
When you think back to what offices of the past were like, it’s likely you’ll conjure up an image of dreary suits, rows of cubicles with desk computers inside and intimidating meeting rooms. However, in many of the offices of today you’re much more likely to see smart-casual wear, remote working, hotdesking, and even employee breakout areas with beanbags and mini fridges.
Although today’s business environment may be more relaxed, the importance of etiquette remains prevalent. To ensure your employees are professional and polite at all times, we’ve created some key business etiquette rules to follow.
Building good working relationships with customers, clients or partners is part and parcel of most businesses, and making a good first impression is the first step on this journey. First impressions are memorable, and often set the tone for the relationship that follows, so it’s crucial that you and your employees start off on the right foot.
These days we conduct so many of our business interactions over the phone or on Skype that we risk forgetting the makings of a good first impression. The golden rules are making eye contact, a firm handshake, smiling, and greeting the person using their name. Greet everyone in the group in this way, and try to remember each person’s name.
Face-to-face meetings are much more personal and give you a chance to properly bond with your new client or partner. Try to maintain an interested, positive attitude throughout the meeting, think about your body language, and always follow-up after meetings with a thank you email, message, or call afterwards to cement the good impression in that person’s mind.
Punctuality is key when it comes to business etiquette. Being late comes across as rude, disorganised and disrespectful, and won’t do you or your business any favours. Impress upon your employees or colleagues the importance of being on time, and highlight the benefits it can bring. If particular employees are consistently late for meetings or appointments, it may be time to sit them down for a serious discussion about their business conduct and what the potential consequences of being late. A punishments and rewards system usually works well and will ensure that all employees arrive to work and meetings on time.
Although lots of businesses have started to relax their previously strict clothing regulations, it’s nonetheless still important to have a dress code. Despite what some might say, we do subconsciously make assumptions about others based on how they dress. For example, referring back to our point about good first impressions, if the person you have a meeting with shows up wearing a smart pair of trousers and a shirt, you are much more likely to consider them professional than if they turn up in a tracksuit and a baseball cap. Wearing smarter clothes has also been proven to affect work performance, and makes people feel more confident and productive. Bearing all this in mind, what we wear is therefore an important part of good business etiquette.
Lots of workplaces employ a ‘smart-casual’ dress code, which gives people more freedom to wear what they like whilst remaining professional at the same time. Certain items of clothing may be banned, including tracksuits, flip flops and hotpants. Other companies have ‘dress down Friday’, where employees are encouraged to wear comfier, more casual clothes for one day of the week. A company dress code doesn’t mean that everyone has to wear suits and high heels, but it will give you a more professional air and implies that you take as much care of your business as you do of your appearance.
Another thing to take into consideration when looking at your business etiquette is creating a productive working environment. This means no loud music, especially when there are meetings going on, making sure to take personal phone calls outside to avoid disturbing desk neighbours, and respecting fellow employees’ privacy and space. This is courteous to others and will enable employees to get on with their work with minimal distractions.
Your employees should be polite to other people within the company, as well as any visitors, clients or customers. Swear words should be avoided, as well as topics that others may find uncomfortable. Discrimination and prejudices should never be tolerated, including racism, xenophobia or sexism, and incidents of workplace bullying should be taken extremely seriously.
The environment we work in is incredibly important for our day-to-day work, and maintaining a clean and tidy workplace forms another vital part of business etiquette. Encourage your employees to keep their workstations clean and tidy, and respect their neighbours’ work space by clearing away any rubbish, not leaving old food and drink on desks and keeping personal possessions neatly stored away.
Not only is this polite business etiquette within the company itself, but it will also create a good impression of your business for visiting clients or customers. A well-designed office space free from clutter can even boost productivity too.
Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA
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