The worst social etiquette mistake people are making in the office, according to an HR pro

 Workers are back in offices, and so are some of their bad habits.

After years of prolonged working from home, some employees at Epignosis, a software learning company, were returning to offices but not treating them as shared spaces. As a result, the 235-person company, which is 30% remote and 70% hybrid, created an office etiquette guide and required that all existing and new employees get training on it, says Christina Gialleli, the director of people operations at Epignosis.

It’s all to combat the biggest etiquette faux pas Gialleli says she sees in today’s workplace: not being mindful of others in your surroundings.

“Offices are busy now,” she says. Some recurring issues of today’s office include people talking too loudly in areas meant for focused work or taking personal calls in an open space.

Unkempt workspaces are another big problem, Gialleli says. Things you’d think would be “common sense” are turning out to be big problems, she says, but explains that people have trouble “adjusting to not being on your own in your home office.” One example she’s seen is leaving your dirty dishes from lunch on your desk to pick up at the end of the day.

It’s especially bad for teams that use hot-desking rather than keeping assigned spaces for employees, Gialleli says. Suddenly, leaving behind a graveyard of used coffee cups isn’t just an eyesore for your desk neighbor, but it can become a problem for the next person to use the space.

In response, Epignosis employees are now trained on an office etiquette guide, which includes reminders about picking up after yourself in the communal kitchen and not adjusting the A/C to freezing.

Mindfulness in the Hybrid Workplace

Being mindful is especially important in hybrid workplaces where employees aren’t always in the room together.

Otherwise, Gialleli says, teams can easily fall into issues of proximity bias, where people in the office are favored for certain assignments and in meetings because they’re physically present.

According to Epignosis data, one of the most in-demand courses it offers is around the proper etiquette to host a hybrid meeting, which Gialleli adds is “the biggest pain point” and an area for improvement in today’s hybrid workplace.

To that end, good hybrid meeting etiquette includes a few things:

  • Booking the appropriate facilities in the office with the right technology so remote workers can actively participate
  • Setting an agenda beforehand so everyone has the same info entering the meeting
  • Sending the meeting request in advance to accommodate those on a more flexible working schedule
  • Following up on the meeting with a written summary and action items for everyone to work on

Finally, Gialleli suggests, remembering to capture anything important said outside of the formal meeting that remote workers should know, and pass that along in a written message.

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