A Guide to Office Etiquette in the UK

Busy open plan office with two people talking at the front

Office etiquette is full of unwritten rules that are never explicitly shared. Some are more obvious than others and some may be easy to forget, especially as you become more familiar and comfortable in your office environment. So whether this is a reminder or the first time you’ve heard these rules, here are the dos and don’ts when it comes to office etiquette. 

Office Etiquette Dos

Here’s a list of a few things to make sure you do in the office. 

1. Clean up after yourself

Whether you’ve made a cup of tea or rummaged through the office supplies closet, it is an unwritten rule that you tidy up after yourself. Whether it’s doing the dishes you’ve brought back to the kitchen for your colleagues or leaving your desk free of clutter at the end of the workday, these actions don’t go unnoticed.

2. Be friendly

This may seem obvious, but being friendly, even when you’re having a tough or stressful day, is extremely important for how your work colleagues see you. This could look like checking in on the newbie to see if they’ve settled in okay or saying good morning to colleagues when you come into the building.

3. Keep your personal phone on silent

Office etiquette is all about not disturbing or interrupting anyone else’s work unnecessarily, and a good way to do that is to make sure your phone isn’t on loud. Whether that be texts or the sound of you pressing keys, keep your phone on quiet mode in the office. There may be exceptions to this, like if you are expecting an important personal call or message, but it is always important to be mindful of your surroundings. 

People working in the office along a desk

4. Arrive on time

Though this may seem obvious, arriving on time or early is extremely well-received and makes an excellent impression. However, this shouldn’t slip after the interview process. Arriving on time for meetings, calls (even remotely) and sticking to deadlines are all part of office etiquette, as they add to the efficient running of the business.

5. Take personal phone calls in private

Taking personal phone calls away from your workstation or somewhere private, like a meeting pod, is a good way to show respect for your colleagues. It’s hard to work while listening to someone make dinner plans or discuss personal details. It is also advised to keep personal and work life separate, and this is an easy way to do that.

Office Etiquette Don’ts

Here’s a list of a few things to make sure you don’t do in the office.

three colleagues laughing around a computer with one person sitting down

1. Hit ‘reply all’ to emails unless everyone needs to know 

Most people in the office spend a considerable amount of time reading and responding to emails. Avoiding and being conscious of the “reply all” button will not only save time for your colleagues but may also save some embarrassment of sending an email to a whole team rather than one person. Of course, if everyone needs to see your response, then replying to all may be a good option.

2. Eating and cooking smelly foods

We have all experienced the smell of someone microwaving fish in the staff room. Not only does the smell linger, but it can be uncomfortable for your colleagues. Communal and shared spaces are important places for people to relax and get away from their desks, so contributing to a comfortable environment is good office etiquette.

3. Create or contribute to gossip

Nothing is more unprofessional than taking your grievances up with a colleague who is not involved and causing unnecessary unkind conversations. Although it may feel good to get things off your chest, the lasting impact of gossiping can hinder how professional your team thinks you are. It is also important to remember not to share any personal conversations you have had with a colleague amongst any other members of the team.

4. Use expletives 

Swearing is a big office no-no. By swearing in the workplace, you may risk looking unprofessional and upsetting your colleagues. Some workplaces are more relaxed, which may allow for a little bit of swearing. However, until you’ve established the culture and atmosphere, it is best to avoid it.

5. Play loud music

Music can be great for productivity and joy in the office for some people, but it can be an unwelcome distraction for others. If you want to listen to music in the office, the best option is to wear headphones or play it at a low volume. It may be worth checking with your colleagues before playing anything out loud to avoid upset.


Following office etiquette is a great way to get comfortable and settle into a job. Another way to feel comfortable is by having an office chair that fits your requirements. Speak to us today and we can find the perfect seat for you.