Office etiquette is often used interchangeably with "work etiquette", can be defined as a set of rules and norms which govern social interaction at the workplace. Whereas work ethics tries to understand the relation of individuals to work within life itself, office etiquette has a task a narrower scope in governing an individual's behaviour with his or her colleagues. To a certain extent, office etiquette can also cover aspects of business etiquette and protocol, particularly if and when companies and their staff interact with other businesses and their personnel.

Office bullies

  1. When office etiquette is working well it can prevent bullying.
  2. When office etiquette is working badly bullying happens and lip service is paid to etiquette.

To-do list

So then, how does it work?

Office etiquette rules are there to promote....

  • Peace and order at the workplace;
  • Smoothen the work process by controlling behaviour;
  • Instill discipline and professionalism in a white-collar environment; and
  • Complement the work ethic and culture for effective control and performance over the organisation.

What examples of office etiquette can you bring up (mention 2)

  1. Rule X – be courteous at work. Follow protocols in communication.
  2. Rule Y – keep TLs updated on your progress

How are they part of the workplace rules? (consider their function in work contract)

Why are they there?

The two rules mentioned above govern behaviour because of the needs of the firm – if the firm itself deals with networking instead of aggressive sales boosting. It is then clearly obvious that the rules and culture of the workplace will demand that people keep it as a pleasant working environment instead of a "pressure cooker". The rules:

  • Determine how best to communicate a message, and
  • Prevent any misunderstandings of meaning and intent on behalf of communicators.

Staff should best understand how the impact of their actions carry throughout the firm.

“Just help. Make yourself useful. You aren't just there, waiting. There's no waiting. Just help.” “A great player might or might not improve the group, but a great teammate always does.” So thus, staff should learn to assume manners that are conducive to addition of value to their work and that of colleagues’ as well as render the workplace as pleasant and harmonious as possible.


(needs assimilation)

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  2. Brooks, K “The Modern Consumer: Overtaxed, Overwhelmed, and Overdrawn” (27 April 2007, accessed at:
  3. Daulten, D, ”Today’s work ethic just no longer works”, Boston Globe (25 March 2007, accessed at:
  4. The Economist “The Mormon work ethic: why Utah’s economy is soaring above its neighbours” (23 October 2008, accessed at:
  5. Elgan, M “Hard Work is Dead. Call It ‘Work Ethic 2.0’ ” Datamation (17 December 2008, accessed at:
  6. Hill, R “History of Work Ethic”, The Work Ethic Site (1999, accessed at:
  7. Hill, R & Petty, G “A New Look at Selected Employability Skills: A Factor Analysis of the Occupational Work Ethic” Journal of Vocational Education Research (Vol 20 #4, 1995 accessed at:
  8. Philosophy: The Big Questions, “What are Work Ethics?” (accessed at:

See also