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What are the Unwritten Rules of your New Workplace?

By: Paul MacKenzie-Cummings - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Office Conduct Work Job Colleagues

Your first day in a new job is like your first day at school. You will meet your new classmates/colleagues and teacher/manager and you will endeavour to understand the ‘way we do things here’ as soon as you can. And just like school, nobody handed you a rule book with a written list of do’s and don’ts of the office. But by observing your surroundings and watching how your peers behaved you soon learned that if you wanted to ask a question, you would have to raise your hand in the air instead of shouting out loud.

The same principle applies to the office where there are written and unwritten codes of conduct that exist to ensure the harmonious coexistence between colleagues.

So what are the things that you need to be aware of which don’t feature in the Employee Handbook?

Here are the main protagonists that you need to be aware of that will ensure you won’t antagonise your new colleagues.

Mobile Phones

If you have your phone at work it shouldn’t be on. Instead, set the tone to vibrate. The sound of different ring tones going off can be annoying to others.

Avoid making personal phone calls at your desk. Even if the nature of the call isn’t personal, find somewhere else to talk and avoid disrupting your colleagues.

Don’t take your phone into meetings with you. Regardless of whether your phone is on silent or not, if you receive a call you may be tempted to check to see who it is from. This is not only rude, it is a clear signal to your boss that your mind isn't 100 per cent on your job and all calls can wait until your meeting is over or until there is a break.

And don’t use the phone in the bathroom. Your voice is 20 per cent louder in a bathroom compared to outdoors and most people find it extremely annoying - you never know who may be in the next cubicle.

Using The Internet

Policies on personal internet use differ from office to office with several UK organisations banning their employees from using social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace due to potential time-wasting.

The general rule is to do use the web in moderation and limit your internet usage to non-working lunchtimes.

But if you find yourself clamouring over yourself to access the web for personal use during your first day, then perhaps you need to address why you feel the need to go escape your job and decide whether you made the right decision to take this job in the first place?


The main criticism levied against smokers is the perception that they take more breaks than non-smokers during the working day.

Don’t take too many breaks because if you do, you may be perceived as being lazy, selfish and inconsiderate by others.

Keep The iPod Down

Workplaces that bank on workers' creativity, in which employees work alone on projects, might not mind if its staff are sat at their desks all day listening to their own music on headphones.

But this can have the same annoying effect as hearing the tinny sound emanating from the headphones of the person next to you on the train into work.

If you want to keep your iPod in one piece, then absolutely no singing, head bopping or banging the imaginary drums is permitted.

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