First Grown-Up Job Guide: Workplace Etiquette

By February 12, 2018For Talent

So you’ve started your first grown up job…

You’re ready to put certificates and experience to good use and kickstart that career once and for all!

But entering a new workplace comes with its own set of rules, expectations and social graces- manoeuvring them is the only way to succeed!

Getting to grips with workplace etiquette is an absolute must, regardless of your industry.

Follow our handy tips and you’ll have no problem settling into the professional arena as a fully fledged successful adult

Navigate the hierarchy

Every business has a hierarchy of employees, starting with an owner at the top- all the way down to you, a lowly newbie on the bottom rung. Being aware of positioning is essential in your first grownup job. Your co-workers have proven themselves over the years, whereas you may not even have a permanent contract! Make sure to navigate the hierarchy by finding out what role everyone plays and adjusting your attitude accordingly. Ask the head of marketing if they’d like a coffee, don’t tell the duty managers about your awful hangover and make sure the CEO doesn’t see you texting at your desk!

Workplace politics

As if navigating workplace hierarchy wasn’t difficult enough, you must remember there can also be a minefield of tension bubbling beneath the surface. There will always be that one boss on everyone’s nerves, or the colleague that shirks responsibility. Inevitably, any group who spend 40 hours a week together will clash- but this can cause a lot of hostility in the confines of an office. As the latest addition to this environment, your best bet is to stay out of it! Focus upon the job at hand and avoid being critical of anyone. Engaging in petty politics won’t get you any brownie points from bosses, it’ll just make you seem untrustworthy.


Basic courtesy goes a long way in the workplace. Arrive when you’re supposed to, even earlier if you can. Showing up on time indicates you’re ready to do your absolute best, and that you organise your life around your job – not the other way around. Know you’re going to be late? Call ahead and let the team know you’re stuck in traffic or that the bus has broken down. Employees in their first career role make a good impression because they’re willing to put in the hours- before and after their scheduled ones. However, it’s important to value your own limits and work-life balance. Prioritise what’s best for you, don’t allow yourself to become a complete pushover!

Dress code

Acceptable work attire differs radically depending upon where you work. During your first couple of days, remember it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed (not necessarily a top hat and monocle but do veer on the side of caution). After a while, you can gauge the unofficial dress code and adjust your style to meet expectations. If you’re the only one wearing a suit after a month- you might be giving off a bad impression!

Distracting others

Everyone enjoys a chat with co-workers occasionally during work. But a constant interruption can soon become infuriating. Oftentimes, employees are too polite to tell a coworker to ‘be quiet’- so you’ll have to judge the situation yourself. Other rules are a little more straightforward. Don’t play music out loud, unless everyone wants some background noise. If you’re eating crunchy food or making calls at your desk, monitor how loud you’ll be! Use Google calendars to book meetings rather than approaching coworkers, this will only annoy everyone else. Also in meeting situations, try not to interrupt unless your question is urgent.

Respect the space

Remember that you’re in a shared space, and that you’re using someone else’s property. Make sure you don’t leave a mess on your desk, or clutter in the locker room. Your boss might think you’re just plain disrespectful. Try to eat away from your desk as much as possible to reduce crumbs. Also, don’t shirk away from replenishing office toiletries or essential snack supplies!

Taking time off

Sometimes you simply just don’t feel up to working. No matter how important your deadline is, or how much painkillers you can take- sick days are inevitable. Staying at home is a much better alternative to infecting everyone you work with! If you won’t be coming in, let HR and your team know before they start wondering where you are. Check out if your job allows you to work remotely, which means you could stay on top of work from bed. When it comes to holidays, book them off as far in advance as possible, giving your team ample notice to accommodate for your absence.

Keep it Professional

Although your co-workers might be similarly aged, there are social boundaries that are important to maintain in work. If you go out for after work drinks on a Friday, treat it like a company event. Don’t let loose as much as you would on the weekend. You still want your co-workers to take you seriously on Monday, which will be difficult if they had to carry you into a taxi home, or hold your hair while you got sick!

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Author Jack Maguire

Jack Maguire is a recent English Studies graduate, content writer for the Jobbio blog, freelance journalist and podcast creator.

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