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How to Behave Like a Normal Person In the Office

This article is part of our Post Grad Survival Guide for the recent grads out there that we’ll be rolling out this summer. Join our email list to follow along all summer and email if you’d like to guest write.

Sadly, after more than a year of work from home bliss, companies are starting to ask people to return to the office. Obviously, that blows fucking chunks. I’d even go so far as to say that it sucks ass. Unfortunately though, at some point, most of us will have to return to the office in some capacity (pray to god it’s a hybrid model instead of 5 days a week) whether it’s next week, next month or even next year.

*cue clap from Friends theme song*

Luckily, we’re here for everyone with some simple reminders on office etiquette. Even more importantly, we’re here for all those recent grads starting their first corporate jobs, who had to struggle through remote internships last summer and have no goddam clue how to behave like a normal person in the office.

Today we’re going to be breaking down some simple tips for each of the key office areas you’ll encounter so listen up (or read up I guess.)

Office Etiquette for New Grads (and Also People Who Forgot During the Pandemic)

Live look at your employer dragging you back into the office this fall

1. The Desks

It’s going to be a very tough transition to go from working on your couch with Sportscenter on in the background to sitting at a long table in an open floor office space with absolutely no privacy or access to Netflix. It was a good run, but it’s time to start thinking about your new desk life and how to handle it.

The desk is a sacred space. It’s the one thing that is truly yours in this office, even if it is owned by your company. As such, let’s show some respect to other people’s work homes.

Monitor Peeping

If you can see someone else’s monitor, don’t fucking look at it. Yes, I am alternating between gChat, Twitter, and live betting women’s tennis. I don’t need you judging me.

Phone Calls

Your cube isn’t a fucking corner office. You’re sitting right next to me – I can hear you on the phone with your mom, Jamie. Don’t make me care about your family’s upcoming vacation plans.

Respect the Headphones.

There’s always some jerkoff who wants to come ask you if you got their email or shoot the shit in the middle of the day. Headphones in means that I am actually working, and should only be bothered in case of an emergency. I got some PowerPoints to make dude- they don’t say I have Big Deck Energy for no reason.

2. The Hallways

I could tell you what to do in the hallways. But I’d rather show you (and promote the YouTube channel)

One thing that was not covered in this video is the long hallway. As you and a colleague approach each other at opposite ends of a 50-yard hallway, a million questions run through your mind. When do you make eye contact? When do you say hi? Do you have to say hi? Why are our hallways longer than Sam Ficken’s field goal range?

Here’s what you do. Look at your phone for about 10 seconds. Chuckle to yourself or nod grimly so they think you are actually reading something. Pick up their location from the corner of your eye. When they’re about 15 yards away, look up and smile at them. Say hi when you’re about 10 yards away, which gives them enough time to return your greeting right as they pass you. Be precise with this because there’s nothing more catastrophic than saying hi too early and having to add a second greeting before passing.

Once you pass them and turn the corner, collapse on the ground, sweat pouring down your face as anxiety exits your body. You made it man. You’re a hero. Clean yourself up and head over to your project status meeting.

3. The Kitchen

Generally, I am team “go buy your lunch at a fast-casual establishment” (Jersey Mikes preferably or Dos Toros in a pinch) for a few reasons

1) It’s nice to get out of the office for 20 minutes.

Maybe you’ll even see the sun for once in your pathetic life.

2) Packing a lunch is annoying and not actually a great cost saver.  

After the cost of groceries, you realistically save like $20 a week MAX by meal prepping, plus you have to lug Tupperware back and forth every goddam day in your stupid little backpack. Smelly and annoying.

3) This is your one nice thing

If you meal prep, by Friday you’re eating soggy chicken and broccoli for the 4th time that week and want to kill yourself.  You’re in the office again and it sucks. Go get something good for lunch. Fight the power brother.  

If you are bringing your lunch, let’s show some respect at …

The Microwave

Heating up leftovers from dinner for 1-2 minutes? That’s fine! I’ll even allow some smelly ass shit like fish or a weird curry thing, as long as you say “oh my gosh I’m so sorry about the smell,” afterwards. It’s totally fine Hannah, just please acknowledge how nice of a guy I am.

I draw the line at the multi-course, multi dish microwave lunch. I don’t have 4 minutes to wait for you to heat up your squash and quinoa bowl, then swap in your salmon, followed by a bowl of terriyaki sauce that needs jusssst a little bit of time to heat right up. I gotta get back to my desk and make this goddam company run if you don’t mind.

Dirty Microwave - YouTube
Also, clean up the fucking microwave

4. The Elevators

This is a minefield. There’s really nothing worse than getting caught in an elevator with a coworker that you sort of know. It’s weird if you don’t say hi, but do you want to risk getting roped into a conversation (no)? How long of an elevator ride will this be (way too long)? Do we continue our conversation when someone from another company hops on the elevator on the 7th floor (if you want, but also a great excuse to stop)? If it gets super full and we’re squeezed together, do you acknowledge that dicks are touching (yes. it’s sexy and you’ve already left the office so it’s technically not sexual harassment i think)?

I can’t answer this because clearly, I don’t know how to handle myself in an elevator at all. I do know one rule for elevators: absolutely no farting, even if you’re alone. Save that for…

5. The Bathrooms

Man, I can’t wait to go back to shared communal bathrooms right guys? One important thing to remember is that what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom.

Stalls – where we poop.

  • Keep groans to a minimum you little weirdos. We can recognize your shoes under the stall man and now none of us respect you.
  • Absolutely no conversation allowed between stalls.
  • I can’t really respect someone who uses the paper on the toilet seats. Just go bare ass like an adult man.

Urinals – where we pee.

  • I’m open to conversation at the urinals. However , I am NOT open to making eye contact during conversation at the urinals.
  • Fun prank opportunity between friends – if you see your buddy peeing at the urinal, go behind him and push him into the wall. Hilarious.

Sinks – where we wash hands.

  • Nothing quite like taking a massive shit, walking out of the stall and washing your hands next to a very important person in your company who knows what you just did.
  • I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home (personally i don’t wash my hands after i pee because I’m an adult who doesn’t pee all over his hands) but wash your hands in the office bathroom. I shouldn’t have to tell you that.
  • There is acceptable conversation while you’re washing and drying your hands, but keep it brief. No one wants to linger in the bathroom longer than they have to.
How to Have the "Bathroom Conversation" at the Office |
The best networking spot in the entire building. This is where careers are made.

Now go forth and prosper in your new office life. Or you and your coworkers could unionize and agree to behave so horribly in the office that your company insists you go back to remote work. Up to you.

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