10 Ways To Be A Better Coworker
If you’re like us, you show up to work, do your job and go home. But a lot can happen in between entering and leaving your office building — like interactions with your coworkers. And though you’re not exactly paid to be a star coworker, you should probably be one anyway out of respect for your work fam. Here are 10 ways to be a solid team player in any office.
1. Keep your area clean.
No matter how spacious your office space is, or even if you have your own office, you should keep your area tidy and sanitized. Part of any job often includes communicating with your coworkers in person, so you want to keep an inviting and clean space for when they come to your work area to talk or work on something. Also, make sure your workspace isn’t infested with germs. If you’re sick, stay out of the office to prevent your coworkers from getting sick, too, and if you’re just getting over a cold, sanitize the hell out of your area, you know, just in case.
2. Make time for everyone.
Whether it’s someone on your level who wants advice on a project or an intern who asks to pick your brain on your industry, it’s important to make time for the people on your team. You could also always benefit from learning from another perspective or technique. Maybe that intern has a shortcut to a process that has been taking you forever or your coworker asks you to collaborate on their project. But never make time to help your coworkers just because you hope that they’ll give you something in return. Do it because you respect them.
3. Think about your food choices.
Okay, broccoli microwavers — we have a bone to pick (pun intended) with you. You know your bowl of steaming greens smell like pure ass, so don’t subject your poor coworkers to the lingering scent and save the veggies for later. The same goes for you fish lovers out there. Aside from microwaved foods, think about your noise level when eating your meal in front of your coworkers at your desk. Crunching away or slurping for 30 minutes isn’t exactly respectful, either, so be sensitive to your own eating and reheating patterns.
4. Don’t complain.
Everyone has bad days, we know. Whether you had a horrible commute or a big fight with your roommate, sometimes you have to vent. That’s okay. But limit it to rare instances and don’t make your coworkers listen to every single detail of your drunken night out gone wrong. It’s just rude, and you are there to work. Though you shouldn’t feel that you can’t casually talk with your coworkers from time to time, complaining is a huge professional turn-off.
5. Have your coworkers’ backs.
There is nothing more important to a company’s culture than coworkers existing together in harmony. You don’t have to be best friends with them, but you should totally congratulate them if they accomplished something cool or call them out at an all-hands meeting for their good work on something. Praising your peers will not only make them feel acknowledged and valued at the company, but also make you look like a true team player in the process. Also be open to stepping in to save your coworkers’ asses in rare cases. If Cheryl needs to finish up a project that’s due at 10 a.m. but she’s going to be late to work, offer to help tie up loose ends so she doesn’t get into trouble.
On a more serious note, if your coworkers are caught up in an awkward or negative office situation that you know is not their fault, jump in and respectfully have their backs here, too. It’s important to always stand up for what’s right, so if you’re seeing an injustice or miscommunication happening, support your team members.
6. Treat everyone as if they were the CEO.
Though there will likely be a natural hierarchy in your office (you’re under your boss, your boss is under someone else, etc.), you should never feel entitled to treat those with junior positions like shit. Treat everyone on your team with as much respect as you’d treat your CEO. Everyone plays an equally important role in keeping the company running and growing — even the interns — so don’t be the coworker who goes out of his or her way to be feared.
7. Don’t gossip.
This should be the big cardinal rule: Do not talk about your coworkers to other coworkers. The amount of toxicity that you can spread by bad-mouthing someone is unreal, and you also don’t want your coworkers to feel negative as a result of talking to you. Keep it positive, or just keep it to yourself. However, if you happen to be involved in a bad situation (like your boss is a bully or you suspect your company is going under) and you want to consult your team, do it on your own time outside of the office and make sure whatever you talk about is constructive. Make a plan to appropriately address whatever you feel is going awry.
8. Give honest feedback when appropriate.
Obviously, no one likes to be unnecessarily criticized for something they did wrong at work. We strongly advise against making your coworkers feeling bad about themselves, or even giving feedback to your peers if you’re not asked. In some instances, however, like when your coworker asks you for feedback or if you’re in a constructive meeting setting, appropriately give honest feedback with the intention of helping your team. Use a light touch with this sort of communication because you don’t want to speak to your coworkers as if you are their boss, but you also don’t want to lie to them when they ask for your advice. When all else fails, wait until you’re addressed about giving feedback, and always be nice and tactful in your delivery.
9. Hold yourself accountable.
Everyone makes mistakes — it’s a fact of life. When you mess up at work, take responsibility for yourself and be honest with your team. In certain situations, owning up to a mistake can seem tricky, like if you were a part of a group who made the wrong choice. But no matter what, throwing your coworkers under the bus, especially for something you took part in, is no way to act. Admit that you’re wrong if you’re wrong, and own your mistakes. That also means that if you worked on a project with someone and you both messed up, take responsibility for your part. That way, there’s no under-bus throwing but you’re also not taking the blame for more than what you were responsible for.
10. Interact with your coworkers as people.
Again, you don’t have to be best friends with your coworkers, but it’s important to not act like a robot. Your coworkers are people, too, with lives and good days and bad days. Take the initiative to ask how their weekend was from time to time, or check in about their sick grandmother they told the office about a few weeks back. A human touch is crucial to keeping a team close-knit and working efficiently, but you also just give off good vibes and show your coworkers that you’re not an asshole. Win win!