You did it. You graduated, secured your first job and are heading into the next chapter of your life. As you embark into the working world, you probably feel nervous and excited about your first day at work. It’s normal to feel that way. But, as you ease into your new routine, you might find that some of the things you did while a student or an intern, aren’t exactly welcomed in your brand new, shiny office.
Is it okay to wear jeans to work? Is your “Work Mode” Spotify playlist appropriate for the office? Is chewing gum at work a cool or rude thing to do? If you’re worried about how to behave as the new employee, don’t despair — we spoke with business etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach Jacqueline Whitmore to determine the top five office rules every new graduate needs to know.
Many people love to listen to music while they work. For some, it can make them more creative or help them focus; but for others, music can be distracting and deter them from productivity. “If you’re in an open space where everyone works, I would say no. But if you’re in a private office, I would say yes,” explains Whitmore. “If you can wear headphones without it making you less productive you can do so, but it also depends on your position and level of focus. If your job is to be aware of what’s going on around you, such as an office manager or assistant position, then you shouldn’t be listening to music at work.”
Want to know what you shouldn’t talk about at work with your co-workers? Gossip about co-workers, sex, politics and personal money matters are the four topics Whitmore says you absolutely should avoid discussing on the job.
Chewing gum is not inappropriate at work – unless you’re doing it loudly, with your mouth open and you’re popping bubbles in your coworkers’ faces. If you’re quietly chewing a piece of gum after lunch or for a minty-fresh pick up in the afternoon, you’re not going to get fired for doing so. But, it’s the loud chewing (or sticking of gum under the desk at work) that’s going to get you called into the principal – er, bosses – office. “Avoid anything that is too crunchy and noisy or has a potent smell to it,” adds Whitmore. “Any kind of messy eating at your desk should be avoided. And of course – don’t take calls with food in your mouth.”
Every now and then, your office might throw a party or host a “happy hour” at the end of the day. While it can be fun to relax with your co-workers over a beer, you want to make sure you avoid drinking too much, especially as a new member of the team. While Whitmore notes it can depend on your tolerance level, she says two drinks is the maximum you want to have at a work function to avoid getting intoxicated or impaired in front of your co-workers.
What’s the number one rule for behaving at work? “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” says Whitmore. It’s something your parents might have told you over and over again as a kid, but it still holds true because it’s the best way to be a decent person, especially inside an office. If you wouldn’t want someone yelling at you in front of your co-workers, don’t do the same to them. If you wouldn’t want people gossiping about you, don’t talk that way about others. At the end of the day, you have come back and face your co-workers tomorrow – so treat them with respect, be kind, and before you make rude comments or jokes at the expense of a colleague, think about how it would make you feel.
This article is by Isabel Thottam and originally appeared on Glassdoor. It has been lightly edited and reposted here with permission.