Posted on 18/11/2015 by Samara Dela Roza
I like to laugh as much as the next person and there’s no two ways about it, there are potentially skeletons fighting their way out of many a professional person’s cupboard but is that Jolly Roger tattoo appropriate workplace garb? The sad truth is that it’s probably as welcome as the story about the time you mistook your wife’s round, white, vintage handbag for the loo late one evening after too many beverages.
We’re talking about office appropriateness and not that relevant to a bar because I’m pretty sure exposed tattoos are de rigueur with the latter.
There’s a place and a time, people. Even within the office environment, dress and behaviour rules can shift but I’m here to help you get a few guidelines straight.
When you’re new or temping
In all matters, err on the side of caution.
Wear the stockings/ suit jacket, button the top button/ lip. When you’re new, you have time to gradually come to know the expectations or access formal guidelines without necessarily asking “is it OK if I wear my multiple piercings at work? Best not to say that. Ever. When you’re temping, you only have a limited time to appropriately represent yourself and your agent (because make no mistakes, we are judged by you as surely as if we were pulling your puppet strings). Also, you never know where this little temp gig could lead you.
Books are judged by their covers
It sure would be a beautiful world if all that we did and all that we were shone through to cover our nakedness. Veronika Maine could take Hugo Boss by the well manicured hand and politely disappear into the ether. Until that happens, the office workers of the world will be donning their corporate garb.
I am not the fashion police. Style should be personal, professional and make you feel physically and mentally confident and comfortable. Certainly some environments are more formal than others but taking pride in your appearance is always well advised.
Hot tips of the season (and that means always) are as follows. Pressed is best: that triangular paperweight in the corner of your spare room is an iron, do use it. Jingle bells is a Christmas ditty and should not be the sound of your OTT jewellery that is distracting at best. Pet hair is not an accessory. It’s not sunny in here; sunglasses inside make people question “is that person hangover or just rude?” Smell is an often overlooked sense and no one wants to sense you a hundred metres away regardless of the scent. It costs little to be perfectly neat, clean and modest which displays respect not only for yourself but for the people you associate with over the course of your business day.
Handling personal conflict in the office
It’s easier said than done for some but the secret to success in handling conflict with a colleague is simple, address the matter directly, privately and politely. If at first you do not succeed try and try again. Escalate the matter to your direct manager if results do not ensue. Positive and professional working relationships are no joking matter.
Humour and the lines
As with personal relationships, professional ones all differ and not all will bear the weight of edgy humour. Apply that pointed perception before you apply your razor sharp wit and please, please leave no evidence! No hilarious but visually confronting emails from company emails, no possibly misconstrued multimedia messages from your company phone. It is highly likely that if it came from Reddit or would be well received there: it is NSFW.
What qualifies her to make these assertions on office appropriateness I hear you ask? I am familiar with ‘the line’ as I have lingered near it and indeed crossed it many times. Having spent a decade managing one of Adelaide’s best loved, live music dives before transitioning into the corporate world, I bear the influence of my former life thinly veiled beneath a veneer of tailored suiting and what regularly pass for manners. Working in an office environment and negotiating what can be a minefield of cultural expectations need not be an exercise in conforming but can certainly be one in occasional constraint and may even be an opportunity to develop as a person.