Workplace Etiquette Industry is Booming

Over the last two years, companies have been moving back to more in person work. As businesses called employees back to the office, they encountered an unexpected challenge: a significant number of employees seemed to have forgotten how to navigate the office environment appropriately. This phenomenon has prompted a notable surge in the demand for workplace etiquette training, reflecting a critical adaptation to the hybrid work era.

A survey conducted by Resume Builder in July, encompassing over 1,500 business leaders, revealed that more than 60% of companies are planning to introduce or have already implemented etiquette courses for their staff this year. The profound impact the pandemic had on professional conduct has reaffirmed the idea that soft skills are indispensable for maintaining a productive and harmonious workplace.

The transition to remote work led to the blurring of professional boundaries. As employees adapted to working from home, habits and behaviors suited to a more private and informal setting inadvertently crept into the professional sphere. Michael Chertoff, a spokesperson for the necessity of reacclimating to office norms, captured the essence of the issue: “It’s like people just got out of practice in some ways…So, you have to learn and remember that, no, you have to wash your dish because you’re not at home, you’re at the office.”

Common etiquette missteps observed include inappropriate volume control during phone conversations, leaving communal areas untidy, engaging in unsuitable office discussions, awkward social interactions, and communication pitfalls such as overly lengthy emails or the misuse of emojis and acronyms with ambiguous interpretations. Additionally, the nuances of dressing appropriately for the office and virtual meetings pose a challenge, with Chertoff advising against overly casual attire (even for the lower half in case you have to hop up to grab something).

Because of this, office etiquette guidance has proliferated across social media platforms, with influencers and professionals sharing tips and insights.

Of particular concern is the integration of Generation Z into the workforce. Many in this demographic entered their professional lives amidst the pandemic, missing critical opportunities for in-person learning and internships. Consequently, they face unique challenges in adapting to office norms and expectations. Addressing this, some academic institutions have begun to emphasize the importance of soft skills alongside technical proficiency, incorporating courses on professional behavior, networking, and business etiquette into their curricula.

Understanding and navigating the complexities of modern workplace etiquette is not only about preserving decorum but also about ensuring effective collaboration, mutual respect, and the overall success of the organization. As Chertoff succinctly puts it, “Soft skills are just as important or more important than the technical skills that you learn.”

Luckily, it looks like the etiquette courses and Tik-Tok influencers have got Gen Z covered. Best of luck to them!

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