Now that the holiday season is behind us, the reality of a brand-new year has set in and many of us struggle to keep the new year’s resolutions we made just weeks ago. If you are having trouble making it to the gym, waking up an hour earlier or meeting any of those self-imposed new rules you set for yourself, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, approximately 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions have already failed by the second week of January.
That said, we still believe that the first of the year is a great time for a professional “tune up” by focusing on little things that can make a difference. From remembering basic office etiquette to showing colleagues respect, these resolutions may be a little easier to keep while also making the daily grind not so grinding.
Working hours: It’s great to have flexibility at work in terms of arrival/departure times but most of us still must adhere to a set work schedule. That doesn’t mean that things won’t come up that may make us late, including, errands, traffic challenges, frost on our windshields or a sick child. But even though everyone faces these challenges, most of us work on a salary basis and should do our best to work a full 8-hour day, 40 hours per week plus a lunch break. By adhering to a set schedule, you will not only learn to manage your time more wisely, you will also exhibit a professional demeanor and show respect for your superiors and colleagues.
Time off: Employees are often advised to make vacation schedules at the beginning of the year, ensuring they get the proper time off for that Viking River Cruise in Europe! Having your vacation time scheduled in advance shows respect for your coworkers and helps facilitate planning for the entire year. Once your time is approved by management, you should inform your coworkers when you will be out via email or send a calendar invite. Also, be sure to coordinate—in advance—who will be covering for you and who will be in charge while you are out. The same mindful planning should also be used when scheduling doctor and dentist visits for you and/or your family members. And if you are planning surgery or any other medical procedures, try to schedule in advance and let your team members know when you will be out of the office. Finally, if you have a sudden sickness, be sure to inform your colleagues as soon as possible via email or text to keep them up to speed.
Volume Control: With open workspaces becoming commonplace these days, a closed door can’t shut out a loud co-worker or someone on a speakerphone. If you have to make phone calls in an open setting, make sure to control your own volume and respect your neighbors. Or if your office has privacy rooms, utilize them. Also, remember to minimize personal calls and keep your ring tone low or on vibrate.
Kitchen Duty: The shared office kitchen is often the most contentious room in any office setting. From leaving last week’s half eaten lunch in the fridge to stinking up the kitchen with reheated leftovers, employees need to show respect and mind their manners when it comes to this shared space. So, this year, resolve to wash your own dish after you use it or rinse and place it in the dishwasher. If the dishes are clean, and you want to put in dirty dishes, take the time to empty the dishwasher. Also, throw out your old food in the refrigerator and try to avoid stinking up the office with burnt popcorn or any other less than pleasing odors. Your co-workers will thank you for your concern and respect.
General Clean-up: How many times have you heard a tidy colleague say, “Your mother doesn’t work here” in reference to cleaning up after messy staff members? Probably a lot. Beyond the kitchen (see above), an untidy office or shared restroom can slowly chip away at morale, send a bad signal to visitors and generally make someone feel less than professional in a work setting. So, the next time you see a full can of trash, take the initiative and empty it yourself. Change the toilet paper roll if needed, and if you miss the trash can, take the time to pick up the used towel off of the floor. And please, remember to use air freshener sparingly to avoid an overly perfumed restroom. Finally, end your day by keeping your desk/floor area orderly and neat. It’s a small gesture, but one that your colleagues will appreciate.
First one in – last one out: If you are the first one in the office in the morning, you might need to check or adjust the thermostats based on what season it is. If you have shared office machines (like copiers) go ahead and power all equipment on so your coworkers can hit the ground running. And at the end of the day, if you are the last one out, check office doors to ensure they are locked, turn off all lights to include conference rooms and, of course, set the alarm if you have one.