As a new employee, you might feel nervous stepping into the office on your first day. You're unsure of what to expect, how to behave and the dynamic of your company's culture. You might have much to learn, and that's OK. Here's how to practice good office etiquette as a new employee.
Get to know your co-workers
They say you spend most of your time with your colleagues, so you should get to know them organically as you begin your new job. Get a feel of how they interact, what their interests and values are and how they add to the culture of the company.
However, don't force it, said Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.
"Working together, serving on projects/committees and going to lunch with different groups will allow you to build those connections," she said. "Taking time will also allow you to figure out some of the group dynamics and office politics that may not be apparent in your first few weeks."
You also don't have to be best friends with your colleagues. If you get along well enough to work together without strain, your experience should be smooth.
"Be kind, respectful and empathetic to all, and be accessible – hear others out, and listen more than you speak to make a good first impression," added Scott Steinberg, keynote speaker and author of "The Business Etiquette Bible" (READ.ME, 2018).
Don't make assumptions
You want to ask questions so that you understand what's deemed appropriate or not, like decorating your desk or grabbing coffee from the kitchen. Don't just assume that what worked at your old job works at your new one. Every company is different.
"Just as cultures change from country to country, there are different norms about what is and is not acceptable in each office," said Smith. "You will need to think of yourself as a sociologist as you observe what is considered acceptable in your new office."
Also, don't be afraid to ask questions. Doing so will help you acclimate to the new culture, said Smith.
"The best questions to ask are open ended to see how they reply," she added. "What is the dress code? When does work start? How are meetings handled? … It is important to ask the same questions to multiple people because you will find that answers do vary. Listen to all of the advice and then decide what you want to do."
Keep it professional
Without even asking, you should know what's appropriate or not in the workplace. Professionalism is a societal norm in the business world. Wear formal attire until told otherwise and always practice good manners. When in doubt, play it safe – don't do anything you wouldn't want your boss to see.
"Keep things polite and professional and keep informal interactions to a comfortable level," said Steinberg. "A happy hour drink with colleagues is okay, getting sloshed not so much. Let personal matters remain private."
"Most importantly, you will need to create boundaries between your personal life and your professional life," added Smith. "Things you may tell your friends and family will not be appropriate to share in the office environment. Remember, you are your own PR agent. Be sure you are presenting a professional persona."