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Here’s how to navigate the basic rules of workplace culture

Whether you’ve landed your first job or still acclimatizing to being back at the office. It’s important to note that as you navigate your days at the office, there are some basic rules to consider.

Behaviour in the workplace is about respect. “Consider how you carry yourself as a professional and your awareness of the impact your actions might have on other people,” advises executive and leadership coach and founder of TML Coaching, Michal Leon. Some rules are non-negotiable. Here, she provides some brief guidelines.

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Respect other people’s schedules, show up when expected, and communicate to others if you can’t be there on the dot – or at all.

Space and Privacy

Don’t barge into a room if the doors are closed, peek at private documents or interrupt conversations. And avoid loud ring tones and speaking on your phone at the top of your voice, especially if your colleagues are close.


Dress according to your workplace rules. If those aren’t explicit, play it safe and dress modestly. Your work environment should be tidy too.


Keep to the point and be polite and respectful. When you meet someone, extend a hand and maintain eye contact. And respond to emails or messages – it’s better to say you’ll get back to someone than ignore them. Michal says there are many other aspects to consider, “but crucial questions to ask are: ‘how do I want others to treat me?’ and, ‘What do I want them to think of me?’”

She concludes it serves you to remember that other people might see things differently from you. “Listen to and learn from the colleagues you respect and appreciate, especially if you’re new.”

Meet the Expert

Michal Leon is a qualified executive and leadership coach (PCC, ICF; CMP, COMENSA) and the founder of TML Coaching.

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