Back in the office? Here’s how to act professionally in the workplace

Who knew job seekers would be ghost employers?

Or that workers would show up to Zoom in business attire on top and boxer shorts on the bottom.

The problem may be that Gen Zers, many of whom got their degrees online, started working from home and “didn’t have anyone to model good professional behavior for them,” said Kathryn Landis, founder and CEO of global coaching and consulting company Kathryn Landis Consulting.

“Workplace etiquette is an issue,” agreed Stacie Haller, chief career counselor at Resume Builder.

Managers who responded to theirs Survey from July 2023 said there seemed to be misunderstandings about what was and wasn’t appropriate for the office, including overly casual clothing; that inappropriate conversations were taking place and that “there were increasing complaints of a hostile work environment and complaints from guests about the behavior of certain employees.”

Michelle Volberg, founder and CEO of Greenwich, Connecticut, human resources consulting firm Giledan SearchHe was not shocked by these findings.

She said several of her recent jobs didn’t work out because “they had difficulty showing up to meetings on time and arriving with the things they needed.”

Maintaining eye contact was also a problem. “Such behavior is unacceptable in a professional environment,” said Volberg.

The class of 2019 and 2020 often began their employment on screen, leaving behind workers like Mili Hurtado, an account executive at a public relations firm High wirein disadvantage.

Hurtado was eager to move remotely to the Manhattan office, but realized she still had a lot of things to learn. “Like knowing when to talk in meetings,” said the Kinnelon, New Jersey, resident.

On her first day in the office, she was even afraid to recognize her colleagues. “People sometimes look different in person than they do on a screen,” said the 25-year-old.

A Survey of employees conducted by Robert Half and published in September, found that 40% of employees were bothered by others talking loudly, while 30% were worried about office gossip.

Some were frustrated with their colleagues’ meeting etiquette or didn’t know what “business casual” meant.

Hybrid and office workers expressed frustration with colleagues showing up late to meetings, dominating conversations, or arriving unprepared.

Some employers, such as professional services firms KPMGThey proactively address such concerns and don’t look down on workers who need a refresher.

“We all have skills that need to be honed and improved,” said Yessi Scheker, New York managing partner at KPMG. She added that during the pandemic, “we were no longer able to conduct in-person training on presentation skills, so professionals who would otherwise have received real-time coaching in a live environment were unable to attend.”

And when it comes to Gen Z employees like Hurtado, “More juniors did not have the opportunity to shadow more experienced professionals presenting to clients or other groups and see presentation skills or executive presence in action. That’s why it’s only right to bring them along.” “They’re up to date,” said Scheker.

The Robert Half survey found that nearly all Gen Z respondents said they would take advantage of office etiquette training resources if they were offered.

They were joined by 73% of their colleagues from other generations who said they were interested in brushing up on their manners too.

Since not everyone who wants such training receives it, we asked some experts for tips that you can put into practice immediately.

Understand what “etiquette” means

“It’s about how people’s lives touch each other’s lives in meaningful and respectful ways,” said Nisha Trivedi, an Emily Post-certified business etiquette trainer who teaches a course on the topic LinkedIn.
Examples of good etiquette range from responding to Slack messages in a timely manner or writing “Maybe we can discuss this when we meet” or “Remind me tomorrow” if you can’t respond right away, Trivedi said.

Emails should be answered within 24 hours if possible.

If you receive a reminder, you may have already been perceived as rude.

And if you’re on vacation or sick, turn on your out-of-office reply so people don’t get left behind.

Learn by observing

Look for examples. If you work at your employer’s physical location, “take inspiration from leaders and other successful and respected employees,” Trivedi said. “Keep everything positive and constructive. Speak to your manager about anything that raises concerns.”

Take advantage of being personal

If possible, arrive at meetings early so that you can informally greet and meet people as they come in.

If you have time, walk away from meetings with a colleague. “Use it as an opportunity to build a relationship,” Trivedi said.

Act with commitment

“Listen actively when you are in meetings. Make eye contact with the person speaking, take notes, nod and use other nonverbal gestures,” Landis said.

Don’t multitask, text, or play games. While you might get away with it if you’re working remotely or on-site, it not only shows your colleagues that you’re being rude, but also that you don’t care that you’re being rude.

According to experts, participants should be engaged in meetings and even contribute.
According to experts, participants should be engaged in meetings and even contribute.


If you don’t remember a person’s name, “admit it, apologize and then move on,” Trivedi said. Dealing with the problem will only make things worse.

Plan to contribute at meetings

“Read the agenda and think about it before you enter the room,” Trivedi said.

Not only does this show your respect for the leader, but it also puts you in a position to contribute when the opportunity arises.

Let your host know in advance if consecutive meetings are planned.

This way, if the meeting is late, you won’t disturb the host when leaving the meeting.

Be considerate of other people’s time

“Don’t interrupt when others are talking. Leave room for spontaneous interactions,” Trivedi said.

No moans or groans

Some workers don’t want to return to the office even for a few days a week.

If this is you, “Change your mindset and make the most of it.” Be conscious of how you spend your time,” Landis said.

Caroline Bleakley

Caroline Bleakley is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Caroline Bleakley joined USTimeToday in 2022 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Caroline Bleakley by emailing

Related Articles

Back to top button