When it comes to etiquette, at least remember the coffee

Joseph Deinlein

If you’re a coffee drinker, you know.

The clock hits 2 p.m., and you’re dragging. You need the caffeine from the blessed bean, lest you lose any momentum you have left to complete your work.

Mug in hand, you drag yourself to the coffeemaker.

The pot is empty.

Someone — and you don’t know exactly who — but someone took the last ounces of wakeup juice from the carafe and did not have the common courtesy to make another pot for those who would be needing a cup of Joe later in the day.

Etiquette would dictate that if you finish the java, you start brewing the next pot.

But it seems etiquette is a hard thing to come by in some offices.

With that in mind — and perhaps because of my own experiences — I scoured the internet for some rules of office etiquette.

I came across hundreds of suggestions from dozens of websites. Some suggested rules were essentially the same. Some tended to focus more on productivity and collaborating.

While collaboration is important, I’m more interested in basic space-sharing and office mechanics. So, I’ve boiled them down to a few key items that seem, to me anyway, to be the most common sense.

In no particular order:

Be on time. It’s sort of like the person driving five miles below the speed limit on a two-lane highway with no passing zone. Sure, that slowpoke might not have anywhere to be, but the people behind him might. Think about the others who are relying on you to pull your weight. At a minimum, get to work on time, but it’s better to be early.

Remember: You’re here to work. Sometimes, personal life intrudes on work. Try to keep it to a minimum. Make or take personal calls in a private part of the office, or go outside. And just because you have drama in your life doesn’t mean others want or need it, too.

Be respectful. This has several subsections, including, but not limited to: Be respectful of people’s need for quiet, for cleanliness and for space. Keep your cellphone on buzz; sweep up the crumbs from your lunch that you, inevitably, eat at your desk; and don’t let your papers and personal items spill over into any shared workspace.

Smell ya later. This could fall under the previous item, but I broke it out because it appeared on several lists (and I’ve had personal experience that backs up the lists). Remember that smells carry beyond your workspace. The situation most often cited is the microwaving of fish. Just don’t.

Don’t be that guy (or girl). When you take the last copy of the TPS report form, make more copies to replenish the stack. When you take the last doughnut from the box, throw the box away. And when you pour the last of the coffee into your cup, make another pot!

Joseph Deinlein is the editor of the Crossroads Business Journal. Email him at news@crossroadsbizjournal.com.