in available credit

Go Back

From the desk of...

Notes from the offices of Mizzen+Main

Back to The Desk

Workplace Etiquette 101: Tips For the Office


How you present yourself in the workplace matters. No one wants to be that guy at the office. You know who we mean. Coworkers get excited when that guy leaves for vacation. That guy never gets invited to office happy hours. Every workplace has one, and if you don’t know who’s yours, well, it might be you.

Starting to sweat a little? Try a moisture-wicking dress shirt. Just kidding. Here’s something that will help right away. Check out our top office etiquette tips to help make your office feel a little more comfortable.

Tip #1: How to avoid dish duty

It’s 9:05 am on a Monday. You just dropped your stuff off at your desk and you’re looking for that first cup of office coffee. Yum. But then you walk into the kitchen and…yikes. The sink is full of dishes. Not a clean mug in sight.

What do you do now? Spend some time thinking about the bystander effect and how someone else will surely come and help later? No, best to sneak on out and pretend like you never saw anything. 

But here’s the key to getting away without being the bad guy: just take the trash out. That way, anyone who sees you thinks, “Wow, that guy is going above and beyond.” When in reality, you’re just doing the easier chore. Nice one.

Tip #2: How to listen to music 

No one has better taste in music than you. No one. So, go ahead and turn the latest Taylor Swift release up to 11.

Co-workers complaining? That’s because they don’t understand auditory art like you do. Do people keep leaving headphones on your desk as a passive-aggressive hint? Weird. Probably best to return those because you don’t want to rob them of the joy that is your Friday afternoon soundtrack.

But the best way to get your coworkers on board with your music is to give them a turn with the dial. Ever heard of Spotify roulette? (Sorry Apple Music people.) The game is simple: everyone puts a song in the cue and then you let the playlist roll and as songs come up, you guess who picked it.

This game is best played on slow Friday afternoons or even busy Monday mornings, whenever people need to lighten up a bit. 

Tip #3: How to arrive appropriately late

Look, we’ve all been here. Yesterday’s after-work happy hour turned into a late night, so you hit snooze five times before you roll out of bed and realize your video call starts in 10 minutes. You don’t have time for your whole morning routine but some parts of it are nonnegotiable. How late is too late for a meeting?

The correct answer is 7 minutes. Anything under that, and you’re good. Anything over that, and you might need to have an excuse on hand. But the easiest move for getting away with any level of lateness is to walk into a meeting with a pen in hand scribbling something down on a notepad.

That way, people think you were just involved in another thought-intensive meeting that must’ve run late. Never mind that you’re just scribbling down your grocery list. But if you need a “sorry I’m late” excuse, we’ve got a couple.  

Here are some freebies:

  • My earlier meeting ran over
  • Dog got out of the house (and ate my kid’s homework?)
  • My laptop died and misplaced the charger
  • My computer has been doing a software update
  • Thought this meeting was in Mountain Time

Tip #4: How to take personal calls at work

After optimizing your Hinge profile, you’re ready to start swiping again. The matches are coming through, and you’re finding there isn’t enough time after work to reply to everybody. You go, guy.

This is what WFH days were designed for. Save time by replying to your matches during the day. The same applies if you’re in the office, just dim the brightness settings. If anybody asks, you’re handling client requests.

Never mind that those “clients” are potential future spouses and those “requests” are chances at love. If you really need to get out to talk on the phone, head on out for a brainstorming walk. This legitimate productivity tool can also be used for personal gain. We’ll let you decide which.

Tip #5: How to cut out early without getting caught

It’s 2 pm on a Friday, and the weather shows nothing but clear skies and sunshine. The golf course is practically calling your name. Plus, one glance at the calendar shows no meetings for the rest of the day. Are you cool to take off?

You just need to answer one simple question: will I regret this on Monday? If you’ve gotten everything done that you needed to get done, then be the captain of your ship and head out. The 9 to 5 is just a social construct anyway.

Go ahead and block off the afternoon on your calendar, set your status as busy, and enjoy the weekend already.

Tip #6: How to avoid microwave cleanup 

It’s lunchtime, and you’ve got your chicken and rice ready to heat up when you notice a spaghetti explosion in the microwave. Marinara sauce coats the door, and a single meatball has rolled off the plate. Is it your job to clean up someone else’s mess?

Nope. Time to start a witch hunt. Start with a strongly worded note and stick that to the microwave. Then, we’re having one-on-one interviews with every person in the office until we find the culprit. This type of shameless act demands justice. And you’re now the judge and jury.

Never mind that this entire investigation is meant to keep you too busy to clean the microwave yourself. The point is to find the person responsible, and it’s truly selfless of you to take it upon yourself to make that happen.  

Tip #7: How to start happy hour at just the right time

Why do we think that one happy hour every quarter is enough to really bond with your coworkers? Let’s be clear: your coworkers want more happy hours. You want more happy hours. So, make it happen. 

The next time you’re together with your team in the office, invite them to happy hour. Call it a team-building event. Ask the Sales department to come along, and now you’re showing off your cross-functional communication skills. This is the type of leadership that C-Suite wants to see. This is synergy, baby.

Not only will following the tips above help you avoid a bad office rep, but they might make work a little more fun too. While you’re starting to get more comfortable at work, you might as well get an office wardrobe that matches your state of mind. Give yourself a wardrobe reboot and check out our workplace essentials for the world’s most comfortable professional menswear.