For the record, I’m all for casual dress Fridays and Monday morning wellness check-ins.
But as long as we’re in a place of business, a professional setting or, indeed, any public place, some lines just should not be crossed — and, personally, I count “imposing the sight of my naked torso onto my colleagues” as one of those lines.
Just so we’re all on the same page, for anyone who spends any amount of time at all in an office where others are present, here are some other things that are definitively Not Okay:
1. Putting your feet (shod or otherwise) up onto furniture.
Especially if it’s furniture that’s owned/used by a person who is not you.
If you’re on a call and the connection is fuzzy, take it outside. (If it really can’t be helped, pause the call and beg pardon from your neighbours. Give them the option to remove themselves to a quieter location for a few minutes.)
3. Playing music out loud.
As anyone with very specific needs for focus and concentration will tell you, it’s never as helpful for “setting a vibe” as you think it is.
Anyone who also has very specific tastes in music will additionally guarantee you that your deejay choices are never as good as you think they are.
4. Bringing and/or eating extremely pungent foods.
As a durian lover myself… don’t. Just… don’t.
5. Messaging “hi” or “hello” without any follow-up.
To be fair, it’s understandable that some people may lose their train of thought easily — hence their abrupt drop into silence — but for those on the receiving end, this particular style of flagging attention without any illumination can be extremely anxiety-inducing, but even in its best moments, it remains royally annoying. “Hi” what?!
As singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles famously belted: Say what you wanna say.
6. Wearing flip-flops with jeans.
This isn’t rude or offensive per se — it just looks terrible and while your criminal fashion choices are out of everyone’s hands while you’re on your own time, please keep that out of the office.
There are many, many other items that belong on this list, but as we navigate new variances of workplace culture post-pandemic, there are certain to be far more others that fall into greyer areas of uncertainty.
At the end of the day, the main thing to keep in mind isn’t whether a thing you want to do is “appropriate behaviour” or not. “Appropriate” is a shifting goalpost, after all — up until recently, jeans weren’t widely considered “appropriate” for the workplace either.
Instead, ask yourself: If I were in my coworker’s shoes, would I feel entirely comfortable with being subjected to this?
If you can’t wholeheartedly say “yes”, then you might have to postpone that Javanese massage for after the meeting instead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa Lee Suppiah is a deputy editor at TODAY where she oversees commentaries.