Flexibility in the workplace has long been adopted by several companies, especially startups. Yet, there are still a few organisations that are strict to their company rules and take necessary action when employees are found violating the rules, even if the rules are unwritten.
Let’s learn from a case written by Suzanne Lucas. Lucas found a complaint from one of her clients that he was terminated for a mistake that one might think as trivial matter – connecting a personal laptop to company’s wireless network. What makes it more unreasonable is that there is no rule citing employees cannot connect their personal device to company’s wireless. Because of this matter, the said client should either go to court to defend his right or find another employment.
Don’t you think that it’s unfair to get fired for breaking a rule that cannot be found in the employee handbook? You do not know what the real issue is, as well as how to handle it. While you want to defend yourself, it might invite a bigger problem. So, you just have one choice which is to find another employment. Yet, it might sound ridiculous for your next interview if you admit being terminated from a simple problem such as connecting a personal device to the company’s wireless network.
For that very reason, you should observe and learn the unwritten workplace rules yourself. Here are some common unwritten rules that you might not be aware of.
Hint: It is more about observing your workplace behaviour and gets flexible with it.
Know what to and what not to wear is the first tip to survive at work, simply because it is the first noticeable part of you. You might want to stand out from everyone and get noticed by your manager because of your dress. Thus, you always wear a suit and tie while everyone wears flip flops and jeans and a t-shirt. It might not seem like a big deal but the inability to dress accordingly can lead to the exclusion that affects your performance and professional relationship with others. Besides the outfits, you also need to check out how your team handles tattoos and piercings. While some companies allow it, some others might not be so welcoming to have their employees wearing these accessories.
Many organisations provide flex time for employees to ensure work-life balance. However, does the flex time in your company represents the flex time you always dream of? You should make sure of this. Generally, there is a pattern even your employer told you that flex time is available. For example, no one leaves before the boss leaves. If you come early, it is likely that no one sees you arrive. But if you leave early, everyone knows it. Thus, regardless of how productive your day at work is, if you regularly leave the workplace before the majority of your coworkers do, you might be labelled as a lazy and lacking a sense of teamwork.
This can be frustrating, especially for you who yearn for real flexibility. If you cannot keep pace with this, it is advisable for you to consult your manager or HR officer so they can help you manage the flex time. Nevertheless, if talking with your manager results in nothing, you probably want to shift into remote employee (if your employer provides this option), otherwise, you might need to seek new employment somewhere else that aligns with your lifestyle.
The term open door might be familiar in your ear. Whenever you need to talk to your boss, just knock the door and he will welcome you. Yet, it might not be as how it seems. While the manager will spare time for you to discuss some important points, he might not feel comfy if you constantly approach him every time you get a problem or a brilliant idea. Not to say, your manager is also a busy person. Manager’s responsibility is not only to handle his people but also to report and attend a meeting with C-suits, therefore, you might often find him not in his room.
Your manager loves to bring his people to have a lunch discussion every week on Sunday. However, because you always have a family gathering on the same Sunday, you always fail to show up with the same excuse over and over again. The next Monday, everyone is chattering about the project discussed on Sunday and you feel out of the loop and uninformed. You try to catch up but everyone seems busy discussing. In this case, knowing when and how you are expected to participate in a workgroup is important. Take a cue from your colleagues and manage your time. If it is an urgent and critical personal excuse, it will be fine to miss one or two meetings. But never repeat the same excuse as your teammates might see you as being unreliable.
As mentioned in the story above, some employers might allow employees to bring their own device. In fact, bring your own device (BYOD) is adopted by employers because it is more convenient and effective for employees to use their personal laptop or phone to work. Nevertheless, even if your employer allows you to use your own personal devices, you should be careful not to use it for personal texting or calls. If you constantly check your phone, you might be perceived as a lazy and unproductive individual.