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Workplace Etiquette

When starting a new job, it’s important to both brief yourself on the company’s specific policies and take stock of the unique culture of your new workplace. While some things change between companies, some rules are universal and provide a general guideline for how to behave.

workplace etiquette

Here’s a breakdown of some widely accepted workplace etiquette rules:

Personal Care

  • Dress appropriately.
  • Scents can be overpowering. Beware of cologne and perfume use.
  • If you’re sick, keep your germs to yourself and stay out of the office. Technology allows you to still connect with your coworkers and clients via video conference.


  • Gossiping is rude. Just don’t do it.
  • Keep watercooler conversations at the watercooler. Excessive socializing in workspaces is distracting and disrespectful.
  • Think before you speak. Consider that your coworkers may not want to know the intimate details of your divorce or which party you went to last night.


  • Don’t “help yourself” to other people’s lunch.
  • Don’t leave your food in the fridge to get moldy and gross.
  • Clean up after yourself. Your coworker is not your mom.
  • If you take the last cup of coffee, set up another pot to brew. We all know how important coffee is, so don’t leave the next person hanging.
  • Beware of smelly foods. That’s a sure way to incite the ire of your fellow workers.

Acting With Integrity

  • Collaborate. Nothing good was created in a vacuum.
  • Do your own work, and don’t try to “delegate” it away.
  • Be honest and respectful. Nobody wants to work with a liar. And when criticism must be shared, say it kindly and in private.
  • Own your failures as much as your successes.
  • Watch your language. In many work cultures, cursing is a no-no.
  • Be respectful of other people’s time. Whether it’s a scheduled meeting or getting a task done, time sensitivity is important. Sometimes things will go awry, and if that happens, give folks a heads up about the delay.
  • Say thank you. Everyone wants to feel valued, and an honest expression of gratitude can go a long way.

Between Work and Life

  • Time away from the office is important. Respect the need for weekends and vacations.
  • Social media has been the cause of many firings. Keep your use of it in check, and avoid airing dirty laundry in the public sphere.
  • Keep your personal calls and texts under control. Sometimes it’s important to take the call, but if you’re spending 20 minutes talking about your pet cat, then there’s a problem.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Awesome

  • When two downtown New York City office buildings started up a Post-it war, the results took the Internet by storm. From a small “hi,” the conversation continued on to an epic 6-story-high mic drop. Workers stayed late with beer and pizza to work on their windows, and camaraderie was high.



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Ken Narita

Ken Narita’s marketing career spans two decades helping businesses large and small grow. Whether it’s been advising emerging startups, guiding clients from the agency side, or currently, leading SMB marketing at Ooma, Ken has always taken an empathetic approach to addressing goals, gaps, and opportunities. Previously at TriNet, from 2011 to 2017, he grew and led the revenue marketing team through a period of rapid change and growth where net service revenue consistently grew in a range of 15-20% per year and reached $650 million at the end of his tenure. Ken has led demand generation, field marketing, customer marketing, and marketing operations teams and enjoys the ability to integrate campaigns across all functions to drive results.

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