Office Etiquette (and how not to fall out with people) by Ellie Greenfield, Intern

The more offices I find myself in, the more I discover an alarming lack of office etiquette and general common sense amongst colleagues; having previously worked with blokes sat at desks, I’m used to a world of filthy offices, lad jokes and terrible, terrible music bombarding my ears.

Having worked in retail as part of an all-female team, I’ve noticed a stark contrast in attitude; things must be kept tidy, respect each other’s’ privacy, don’t leave your half full coffee mug on a top shelf for six months and so on and so forth (totally not speaking from personal experience, I’ve never had to get a bread knife round some six month old coffee to prise it out of the cup, not me) and so on and so forth. But that’s just retail: a million worlds away from sitting at a desk with the same 6 people, for 8 hours, 5 days a week – so what exactly should you do to keep the peace?

  • Don’t be the loud chewer: a pet hate for about 80% of the population is the ‘noisy-chewers’, the people who can’t eat a soft-mint without it sounding like a tree entering a chipper. Chances are, if you’re deafened by the sound of your munching, the rest of your colleagues are sat glaring at the back of your head, put off their own food by the sound of you chowing down.
  • Don’t blare your music: more specifically, bad music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some good radio vibes to make the time pass, and if someone is listening to something particularly loud through their earphones, I’m not opposed to toe-tapping along. If you’re one of those people who likes to sing, hum or whistle along to your collection of 70’s disco classics or ‘The Best of Barry Manilow’, just don’t… ‘Cause there’s every chance I will launch your iPod through the window and thoroughly scrutinise your DREADFUL taste in music.
  • Don’t bring your obscene weekend antics to work: I’m not saying I’m entirely opposed to a good gossip, my incredibly nosey nature means I love knowing what folks did over the weekend and what they’ve been up to. But there’s a definite line between that and blurting out what your pal Amy from Uni did in X club on Saturday night and how many times Sally from school flashed the bouncer – it’s not interesting and I don’t need to know.
  • Don’t bring food and then leave it in the fridge for all eternity: okay, so maybe this one is just me being a bit pedantic, but unless you’ve ever had to clean Philadelphia spread that’s so out of date it’s turned into a red liquid lapping on the bottom of the fridge–then you can’t comment. End of discussion.


  • Don’t have a very loud and personal phone call at your desk: Is there truly anything worse than sitting behind someone on a bus whilst they’re in an in-depth conversation over the phone? If the disgruntling and frankly irritating sound of your ring-tone won’t drive me mad enough, the subsequent; “OH MY GOD?! SALLY DID WHAT?! L.O.L. YOU’RE JOKING! HAHAHAHAHAHA” that leaves your mouth WILL. Like, a personal call is fair enough but if Saucy Sal or Gossipy Gail is calling and you know it’s set to be a riotous recap of Friday night’s events – do us all a favour and pop outside, yeah?


And that’s that. Be cool, be gracious and don’t forget to offer your tea-making services once in a while to ensure total office bliss.