Flexible working time models and new work have substantially changed the working environment over the past three years. Many aspects of professional cooperation work better if everyone observes certain rules, however, whether you’re now going into the office or working from home. Multiple studies have shown that those who display good manners on the job are perceived to be more professional. Set out below are the most important do’s and don’ts for everyday professional life.
The 5 most important do’s
The old idiom ‘Clothes make the man’ still applies in 2023. Yet every company and each sector has its own dress code that can range from casual to formal. A look at the company's website or social media presence will reveal what is expected of you. And those who work from home should always be camera-ready. A video call with superiors or with clients can come unexpectedly at any time.
Keeping others waiting is considered impolite, not only in private life but also in professional life in Germany. It is taken as a sign of disrespect. Unpunctuality at work can also cause costs, especially if you have a team of several people waiting for you to attend a meeting. It can of course always be the case that a previous appointment took longer, or your journey to the office took more time – your colleagues will be happy to receive a few polite words of apology.
The nature of our collaboration has been substantially altered, above all given the introduction of flexible working time models and remote working. Attempt nevertheless to get to know colleagues from all possible areas of the company and network with them. This network will serve you well when it comes to finding solutions to problems. Also try to arrange coffee or lunch dates on the days you're at work. Nothing can replace personal contact.
Anyone who’s new to the company or to your team is dependent on help from colleagues. You were once new too and were probably happy to have support. Many questions arise at the beginning, not only about projects and processes, but also about the numerous new communication and planning tools. Nobody can master these from day one. And it’s often the case that those who help are also helped.
Given a task to complete just before the end of the working day? Is someone needed to help out in a project with their expertise? Demonstrate your willingness to assist the team. This high level of initiative will get you ahead professionally.
The 5 most important don’ts
Do you know this too? You’re sitting in a meeting, whether in the office or at home via screen, and your counterpart interrupts the flow of conversation – visibly distracted by incoming messages. It’s annoying, especially if these are private in nature. It’s therefore expedient to ensure that your mobile phone, private email account and social media platforms don’t create a distraction during working hours.
It is now common practice in many companies for everyone to use the familiar form of address, regardless of hierarchical level. But that’s not always welcome. In many places, using the polite form of address is valued as a sign of respect, politeness and restraint. You’re always on the safe side if you wait until you’ve been offered the familiar form of address. And it’s still considered polite when the older person offers it to the younger one and not the other way around.
It’s likely that in every company people talk behind the backs of employees and bosses. You’re better not to get involved in corporate gossip, because those who spread rumours often only harm themselves. It firstly signals to others that such individuals are not particularly trustworthy, and it could secondly result in a complaint to the works council. And that could exert a negative career impact.
Talking on the phone at work to hold private conversations with friends or family members disturbs other employees, especially since open-plan offices are now the norm in most companies. Such conversations interrupt the workflow, because no one can block out a conversation conducted at full volume. It’s therefore best to postpone private conversations to breaks, or briefly leave the office to make a personal phone call.
Every employee is in a bad mood once in a while, but it’s unprofessional to let others become aware of this. Block out your negative emotions while you’re at work, because they have no place there. Anyone who shouts at others or puts them down for no reason does not come across as confident and dampens the mood of the entire team.