Some jobs come with a company handbook and a strict set of guidelines regarding office hours, dress code, and sick days.But in today’s business world, plenty of companies leave those parameters to the employee’s discretion so long as the work gets done.
Of course, we all seek to meet our employer’s expectations and play by the unspoken rules. For the times you’re embarking on a new job in which the handbook is less than detailed, we’ve rounded up eight things you can learn about your new office through simple observation.
While most companies have a window of time when the office is officially open, the time that employees walk through the door in the morning and the time that they leave at the end of the day might be less defined. When in doubt, take cues from your manager and mirror her workday. If she packs up every day at 5 p.m., then you should feel comfortable doing the same…so long as your work is finished. Not only will you get into a rhythm on the schedule that is best for your team, but you’ll also get brownie points for being there to support your manager.
You should already have a sense of the company’s dress code from your interview
, but it’s never a bad habit to dress conservatively until you see for yourself how your manager and coworkers handle things like client meetings or casual Fridays.
Observing your team and the people around you can also give you clues about what to do during your lunch hour. Do employees actually take an hour to eat, run errands, and go to the gym? Or do they tend to bring lunch back to their desks and work through the afternoon?
Personal Phone Calls
While we try to keep our work and personal lives separate for the most part, sometimes one creeps into the other. If you’re unsure of how to handle making personal phone calls during the workday, then take a page from your officemates. It may be A-OK to make a call from your desk, but if you need privacy, then ducking into an empty conference room for a quick call might be more appropriate. Some offices have designated phone rooms for this purpose, or you could find yourself out in the hallway or on the street. And make note of whether your coworkers are using their company-paid desk phones or their personal cell phones to make personal calls too.
Your hiring package undoubtedly outlines how much vacation time you are permitted to take each year, but when can you actually take that time? Pay attention to whether your coworkers are using their vacation time in larger chunks or spreading it out over extended weekend breaks. Of course, be sure to allow plenty of time for vacation approvals, and try not to plan big trips during busy projects.
I’ve always operated under the notion that it’s better to promote a healthy work environment by quarantining my germs at home, but not every office functions that way. If an inordinate number of people are coughing and sneezing around the office, then you may be expected to work even if you are ill. Just stock up on Kleenex, cold medicine, and plenty of hand sanitizer!
Unfortunately for us, most doctor’s offices aren’t open on weekends, so somehow we have to balance our health with the company’s expectations of our time in the office. Again, watching your coworkers’ habits can tell you whether it’s best to try to schedule your doctor visits early or late in the day or during your lunch break. Emergencies aside, you should give your team plenty of notice in case your appointment conflicts with an important meeting or project.
When you spend so much time with your coworkers, it’s hard not to share details of your personal life with them. But use their own habits as indicators on how much is OK to share. If they tell funny stories about their kids or pets but steer clear of talk of their relationships, then you should probably do the same. And same goes with your manager: she may be uncomfortable talking about certain subjects because of HR policies, so be careful about sharing too much if she holds back on the personal talk.
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