Tag Archives: workplace

Have You Seen My Stapler? The Rules of Office Supplies

rules of office suppliesAs an employee, you need specific tools to get your daily work done. Pens, highlighters, notepads, staplers, folders, and the list goes on and on. Maybe your company provides you with these supplies. Maybe your company doesn’t. Either way, here are a few tips to keep in mind about workplace office supplies that will help you keep the peace at work, maintain good relationships with your co-workers, and avoid asking the question, “Um, excuse me … have you seen my stapler?”

If you have to borrow something, ask first. Maybe you really can’t find your stapler and you do need to borrow one for a major stapling project. Before you grab the first one you see, be sure to ask if you can borrow it. It’s important to be respectful of your co-workers’ desk space – it’s their territory. Keep in mind how you would feel if you went to grab your tape dispenser only to discover that your co-worker borrowed it a few days ago. To avoid workplace drama, it’s always better to ask to borrow something, especially if it’s for an extended period of time.

Return what you borrow. The rule of thumb to remember is that if you borrow something from one of your co-workers, be sure to return it back to them in a timely manner AND in the same condition it was in before you borrowed it. Be respectful of others’ property.

Don’t take office supplies home. If your company keeps you stocked with office supplies, that doesn’t mean you can take some home for your personal use. It’s easy to drop a pen in your purse or put one in a pocket and walk out of the office with it. But, after time, those little things start to add up and can start costing your company big bucks. Make it a point to keep your office supplies at the office and purchase your own personal office supplies to use at home.

Learn the policy for re-ordering. So, what do you do when there are no more tissues or you can’t find a highlighter in your entire workplace? Is there someone in your office who’s in charge of buying more office supplies for the whole team? Or is it an every man for himself mentality? Be sure you know what to do so that when you run out of sticky notes you don’t get stuck empty handed.

Label items you bought. If your work doesn’t pay for your office supplies, label the items you buy. Put your initials in marker on the bottom of each item, that way if something does get lost, others will know that it belongs to you. This will help prevent debates about who owns what.

Office supplies seem like such a minor part of the workday, but employees can be a little particular when it comes to these tools. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure your workday runs smoothly.

Hold the Phone: The Line Between Personal and Business

EntryLevelLifeButton_A Today it seems impossible to find someone who doesn’t have a cell phone of some kind. It’s also becoming impossible to find someone who’s not on their phone all the time. Your company may or may not have policies that forbid cell phones at work, so be sure you know the rules. If your company does allow you to have cell phones at work, there are some important things you need to be aware of. In a recent survey conducted by Express on smart phones versus workplace etiquette, 59% of voters said that most people are irresponsible with their smart phone use while at work. Phones can be an easy distraction, but follow these tips to help stay focused on the tasks at hand during your work day, and make sure your phone doesn’t become a distraction.

Keep it quiet. When you get to work, turn your cell phone to silent or vibrate mode. This will prevent your ringtone – however great you think it might be – from blaring across your workplace, alerting everyone that you’ve got an incoming call.

Limit your personal phone calls. If there is a reason you have to accept or make a personal phone call at work, keep it short and sweet. Don’t make too many personal calls at work because that will take time away from doing your job and might create a negative situation between you and your manager.

Excuse yourself. If you work in close proximity with your co-workers, like a cubicle, and do get a personal phone call, quietly step out to take it. Go to a quiet spot where you can possibly shut a door to keep your conversation private. Having a phone conversation could distract your co-workers and not everyone in your workplace wants or needs to hear your conversation.

Keep it tucked away. It’s not necessary to take your phone with you everywhere you go throughout your work day. Unless you are expecting an emergency phone call from someone, it is better to leave your phone in a secure place, like your desk, keys, or locker.  If someone does call and you’re away, they can leave you a message and you can call them back at a later, more convenient time. By leaving your phone behind during a meeting, it won’t be a distraction to you or others if someone calls you.

Create texting ground rules, too. Different generations have different expectations, so be mindful of others’ communication preferences. Be mindful that when you’re engaged in face-to-face conversations with co-workers, it’s important to give them your full attention. Make it a rule to not text at the same time you’re speaking with them.

Be cautious about smartphone apps. Smartphones are growing in popularity, and what they are capable of doing is quite impressive. With a smartphone, you have the ability to download applications for games such as Words with Friends – a scrabble game you can play with co-workers – or for social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. However “cool” these apps might be, they can cost your employer a lot of money in lost productivity if you’re more focused on your smartphone through the day than your job. Be responsible with your time while on the job and save your smartphone fun for your free time, such as lunch, breaks, or after work.  

It’s important to know about cell phone etiquette in the workplace. Always be aware of your personal phone usage and be sure that you’re getting your work completed first and foremost.

The iPhone Versus Workplace Etiquette: Take the Poll

Smart phones are once again the talk at the water cooler as co-workers chat up the recently-launched iPhone 4's features (and bugs) and compare notes on the latest in smart phone technology – from Android to Blackberry to iPhone and beyond. According to a recent ComScore study, over 45 million people in the U.S. own smart phones, the largest-growing segment of the 234 million-strong U.S. mobile phone market.

Now that mobile phone technology has advanced to the stage that people are carrying small, hand-held computers around with them on a day-to-day basis, the culture is definitely changing. From impacting e-mail habits to altering the way our brain processes information to changing the intrapersonal communication styles of a generation, mobile technology plays an important role in the digital age.

So this month, we want to know how smart phones affect etiquette in the workplace. Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below:

Surprising Facts About Workplace Friendships

EntryLevelLifeButton_A When you’re in the workforce, a large part of your day – and your week – is spent on the job. And having friends in the workplace can help make your workday more enjoyable. When you have friends in the workplace, it gives you somebody to talk to, brainstorm ideas with, and generally helps improve your overall productivity. According to a survey in Business Wire, 70 percent of all individuals surveyed said friendships create a more supportive and friendly environment to work in, while 56 percent said it increases workplace morale.

Although some workplace friendships can transition into lifelong friendships outside of the office, other times they can backfire and cause more harm than good. When that happens, it can lead to feelings of awkwardness between those involved and have a negative impact on careers and office environments. When it comes to developing friendships in the workplace, you don’t have to avoid them. But, it is important to be a little cautious. So here are a few words of advice to help  keep your workplace friendships happy and healthy.

Remember there’s work to do. You and your co-workers have tasks and duties to perform throughout the day and you have goals to meet. Make it a point to not spend your day around the office cooler gossiping about what company news you’ve heard. If you want to talk and catch up on what’s going on with your office buddies, reserve a few minutes at the beginning of your day, go to lunch together, or talk at designated break times. Just keep in mind that too much socializing throughout the day, especially when there are deadlines to meet, can cause strain and stress on your team, your job, and your friendship.

Be careful about what information you share. If you hang out with co-workers outside of work, be careful about what personal information you share, especially if you don’t want that information shared with other co-workers. Also make sure you don’t talk about other co-workers, supervisors, or the company. Depending on how well you know that person, what you say could get back to the office.

Don’t let the friendship take advantage of you. With friendships in the workplace, you might run into a situation where a friend wants some help with their daily tasks. It’s fine to help them out, but within reason. If they need help with some software, want to bounce an idea off you, need to switch lunch hours so they can leave a little early for a doctor’s appointment, these are examples of when it’s OK to help. But, if they’re wanting you to help cover up a mistake for them, wanting you to give them less constructive feedback, or slacking on their productivity and asking you to take on some of their work, these are examples of no-no’s. Being friends does not mean playing favorites at work. You have a job to do and so do they.

Friends are great to have at work. Just remember that at work, you have to keep your actions professional because you have a job to do first and foremost. Apply these tips to your job to ensure you develop quality relationships with others in the workplace without adding to workplace frustrations.

Things Your Mom Didn’t Tell You About the Work World

Think back to when you were in elementary school and got jitters on the first day back from summer vacation. Maybe it was your mom or another loved one who helped calm your nerves. They probably gave you advice like, “Don’t worry, just be yourself and everyone’s going to love you.” Now, fast forward to today and your working career. Does that advice still apply? To help you gain some perspective and clarity during those times when you need it, here is some advice your mom didn’t tell you about being in the workplace.

Not everyone’s going to love you. In the workplace, everyone has different personalities. Not everyone is always going to want to be your best friend, and that’s OK. You’re going to run into people you don’t get along with. But, be nice and polite with everyone you work with and focus on being a good employee who produces great work.

Be responsible for yourself. In the working world, you are responsible for you. No one else is going to baby you. You have to pick up after yourself and keep your workstation clean and organized. Also, your manager will provide you with direction on your projects, but getting them done is up to you. And, you need to prioritize what’s important as a worker and manage your time wisely to get your work completed on time. Check out these tips on organization and prioritizing. And, remember that It’s OK to talk with your co-workers, but keep the chatting to a minimum so you can be productive throughout the day.

Don’t just do the best you can. Workplaces today are competitive and many are looking for employees who are willing to go the extra mile on projects. Your mom might have been fine with you getting a C on a project or in a class when you were in school, but employers are looking for A+ effort when it comes to work. 

There’s no nap time or recess at work. Gone are the days when you got to take a nap at noon or go outside and climb around on the monkey bars to work off some energy. Your employer pays you to be productive throughout your work day, so make sure you get enough rest prior to coming to work. Set a time each night to be in bed and a time each morning to wake up. When you’re rested, you will have more energy, allowing you to cross more off your to-do list.

Life’s not fair. In your working career, you will probably run into events that aren’t fair, but in some situations, you won’t be able to do anything about them besides just accept them. Titles, raises, salaries – these are a few things in the workplace that sometimes seem unfair. Instead of dwelling on things you don’t have, look for the positive in what you do have. Continue working hard and don’t let “unfair” things slow down your progress or cloud your vision.

Everyone has those days when they wish they could have mom or someone else there to lend some advice when it’s needed. Instead, keep these tips close by for the next time you feel you need a reality check.

Does Your Boss Respect Your Ideas? How to Pitch Ideas Effectively

EntryLevelLifeButton_E Do you have a great idea for a project or one you think might make your work better, help generate profits, solve an issue, or improve workplace productivity? A brilliant idea that doesn’t go anywhere is a lost cause. That’s why it’s important to know how to pitch your ideas to your boss and co-workers to help get your plans implemented. But, pitching an idea isn’t always an easy process. You have to sell it! To help you amaze your boss with your genius and creativity, here are a few tips to pitch like a pro.

Identify a need. The greatest ideas are the ones that help solve a need or problem. Discover what value your idea has and be able to highlight the benefits in your pitch. An employer wants to know what’s in it for them, their business, and their team, if they were to implement your plan into action. Clearly explaining the advantages and potential impact of your ideas to your boss will definitely help improve your chances of getting the green light on your ideas.

Create a sales pitch. After you’ve identified a need, outline exactly what you want your boss to know about your idea. Take a tip from a reporter – for any story they write, they answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how. Outline your answers to these questions for your idea. For example, describe what your idea is and who will benefit from it as well as who will need to be involved to help implement it.

Pitch to trusted colleagues first. Before you run your ideas by your boss, take some time to share them with a few co-workers you know will give you honest feedback. Practice your pitch on them and see what they think. This will allow you to receive tips on what presentation style elements work and what concepts can be tweaked to make your idea more solid. The more solid your idea, the stronger your chances are of seeing it move into action.

Also, think about some possible objections your manager might have, and consider what you would say in return. It’s always better to be over-prepared when pitching your ideas rather than winging it. The better prepared you are, the more confidence you can exude when you meet with your manager.

Pitch to your boss. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, so give it your best effort! Believe in yourself and what you’ve created. If you’re not confident about what you’re trying to sell, why would others believe your project is a winner? Stand tall and let your boss and co-workers see your excitement. And, even if your boss doesn’t think it’s the right time to implement your idea, they will respect you for the time, effort, and thought you put into your idea. They will remember this the next time you have something to pitch.

Don’t oversell. Don’t say your idea will accomplish things it won’t. There’s nothing worse than underperforming on a project that you promoted. From the beginning, be open and honest with what your idea can accomplish.

Accept the outcome. Sometimes your ideas will pass with flying colors and sometimes they won’t.  If you have an idea that your manager doesn’t think will work, see if there’s another solution to help improve it. Sometimes all that needs to be done is a little tweaking. But, if your idea absolutely doesn’t get approved, it’s not the end of the world. Be glad that you gained some experience with pitching your ideas, and head back to the drawing board to come up with your next brilliant idea.

Pitching ideas might be a little more difficult than the actual brainstorming, but you can have your boss saying “eureka” to your new idea with just the right pitch. With these tips in mind, you have a great starting point. You never know what the future holds for you or your ideas until you pitch them.

Are Co-Workers Talking About You? The Truth About Gossip

EntryLevelLifeButton_D You hear your name being whispered. You hear laughter following. Then when you walk into a room, everyone stops talking. Webster’s Dictionary defines gossip as “such talk” or “one who chatters idly about others.” How many times have you been talked about or you’ve talked about someone else? In the workplace, it can create barriers, stir negativity, and lead to destruction.

If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, beware of the ugly beast known as gossip. It can be negative, hurtful, and embarrassing for everyone involved. It can also create conflict in the workplace, especially if you and your co-workers are in close proximity all day. To help you avoid the office drama, here are some tips on how to stay away from the rumor grapevine.

Focus on your work. You have a job to do at work. If you stay focused on your tasks, you won’t have time to participate in negative chatter. If your co-workers see you’re busy, they’ll be less likely to ask you to partake in their chit-chat. If they try to include you in the conversation, let them know you don’t feel comfortable and to exclude you from the conversation. If someone starts gossiping around you, make a choice to walk away from the conversation and don’t participate.

Keep your personal and professional life separate. It’s important to build relationships with your co-workers because doing so helps you function better as a team. But, be sure to keep your conversations professional in nature. If you tell them too much about your personal life, you could be giving individuals a reason to gossip about you. Be careful what you share and who you share information with. This also applies to social profiles such as Facebook. If you share information on your online profile that you don’t want your co-workers to see, control your privacy settings, create a professional page, or make it a policy to not add co-workers to your Facebook account.

Choose friends carefully. When you spend eight hours a day at work, it’s easy to form friendships with your co-workers. If you hang out outside of work, be careful not to talk about the workplace or other co-workers. If so, word could get back to your office and people could get upset.

Stop gossip in its tracks. The best way to end negative conversation is to say something nice about the person being talked about. Being positive is a great tool for combating negativity. A kind word can end the fun that gossips have and can stop them in their tracks – kindness doesn’t provide fuel to the fire.

At some point in time, everyone has partaken in gossip. It's damaging and never the solution to a problem. It’s better just to stop it before it gets out of control. But, if gets to a point where it is damaging to those involved, let your supervisor know. It’s sometimes tough to be the positive one, but it’s well worth the effort and is a true testament to your character, maturity, attitude, and leadership ability.