You can choose your job but unless you are in charge of the hiring and firing, you don’t have much choice regarding your colleagues. With this brave new world of shared and open-plan offices, you are going to spend many a waking hour up close and personal with your new co-workers and all their quirky habits. It’s a bit like a packet of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans – you hope you are getting a reassuring marmalade one but you could end up with the bogey flavour. As Ron warns Harry,”You want to be careful with these.”
As the new kid on the block, it will take a while to navigate the minefield of personalities in your new workplace. With time, you will learn who to avoid until after their morning dose of caffeine and who is easily swayed with cake. In the meantime, there are a few simple do and don’ts which will help endear you to your fellow worker.
- Do respect your colleagues and take advice. Even if they’re as whacky as Bill Bailey in a fight with a hair brush, they are probably older and wiser than you (or pretending to be).
- Be friendly and get to know them. My nearest desk dweller is more than 20 years younger than me (yikes) yet we have discovered a mutual love of language and literature. Our discussions range from Dickens to Dr Who and on both those topics my super brainy, Sci-Fi mad colleague is more knowledgeable than me. (But she is short.)
- Do not discuss politics, religion, your sex life, or the verruca on your foot.
- Familiarise yourself with the fridge etiquette. Eating someone else’s lunch or leaving UFOs (unidentifiable food objects) to ferment for months is not on. Likewise bringing strong-smelling foods into the office; a sure-fire way to earn a black mark is to reheat anything remotely fishy in the communal microwave.
- For the first few weeks at least keep all humming, tapping, muttering and grunting to a minimum.
- Take personal calls outside the office. Seriously, no one wants to know that the verruca has spread.
- Use your initiative and common sense. And listen.
You will have questions, loads of them, and generally people will be helpful and encouraging towards a new employee. I currently work in the education sector and I have yet to come across an Agatha Trunchball, Dolores Umbridge or heaven forbid, Professor Moriarty. Yet.