Unspoken Etiquette of a Relaxed Company

At MyWork, we are very fortunate to have a fantastically relaxed office atmosphere. I am often jokingly asked by family and friends if we actually manage to do any work amongst all the fun they see us having on social media. The initial perception that MyWork is a fantastic place to work is definitely something we encourage and deliberately exploit to assist with attracting the best new hires to the company and retaining our awesome, existing staff.

Between the flexible hours, constant social activities (both in and outside of office hours), cakes on birthdays, massage chairs, casual Friday lunches, fun runs, weekly team Frisbee and basketball games, gym sessions, table tennis, Halloween dress ups, gaming, and Friday drinks, you can see how easily people can get the impression that MyWork sports an ‘all play, no work’ culture. With so many great activities going on, it can be easy for those new to the company to assume our relaxed culture also means a lazy culture; yet nothing could be further from the truth.

In those crucial first weeks of a new job, the last thing you want to do is to completely misunderstand the company culture of your new place of work, as it can lead to any number of embarrassing breaches in office etiquette. So here I have outlined my top five tips for new employees when navigating those tricky early stages of employment within a relaxed company culture.

  1. Do your homework – Before you apply for a job, ensure the company you are applying to matches the kind of working environment and culture you are looking for. Stalking a company’s social profiles is a great way to get a sense for what it’s like to work there. If you don’t socialize easily, if you’re camera shy, or despise team activities that’s totally fine, but be aware that working somewhere that encourages those things will take you outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis (maybe that’s exactly what you are looking for).
  2. Do not assume – Seeing colleagues taking it easy, playing games or leaving early doesn’t mean that these privileges are the norm for all staff in a relaxed office environment. Most likely those ‘taking it easy’ have earned the privilege by arriving early, working overtime, and proving to be capable and reliable over an extended period. As the newest member of the team you should probably try to focus on demonstrating your value before taking advantage of the perks.
  3. Strike a balance – A relaxed dress code doesn’t necessarily mean looking like you are off to the beach. Just as a communal lunch room doesn’t mean eating all the good biscuits and leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen. And playing FIFA at lunch doesn’t mean having the volume turned up disturbing others. You need to ensure that while enjoying the relaxed environment you strike a balance that will not ostracize you amongst your new work mates.
  4. Be adaptable – Embrace change and be progressive in an office environment that is always buzzing and adjusting. Relaxed offices will often introduce new ideas, games, events or processes to keep the workplace fresh and exciting. Don’t be the new guy sitting in the corner refusing to participate or get on board with new schemes or ideas; they are probably being put in place for your benefit.
  5. Relaxed is not lazy – A common misconception that I can refute directly on behalf of all MyWork employees is that a relaxed culture means a lazy one, in which workers are unproductive, unfocused or uninterested in doing real work. Here at MyWork, our employees work harder, better and more productively partly due to the relaxed company culture that we collectively nurture. The culture here is relaxed, yes, but also largely self-regulated by the staff themselves who are often the driving force behind new ideas and imposing restrictions on gaming times, noise levels, coffee break lengths, and abuse of food/snacks privileges. They know that MyWork only exists for them to enjoy as long as the company is productive and our customers are successful; they share in the benefit of everyone collectively doing great work for our clients.

So if you’re lucky enough to have been offered a position in a relaxed, friendly, fun, and yet productive business, congratulations! Hopefully my top tips help you negotiate how to maintain your professionalism within your new relaxed office environment.