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Etiquette in the workplace


Settling in to a new workplace can be a daunting experience at the best of times. It is even more difficult when you are in new country where you are not familiar with the culture.

Australians have a very strong work ethic. Hard work is respected, and expected. This can sometimes be a problem for migrants who come from countries where the workplace is more relaxed.

Most modern Australian companies value talent and hard work above the amount of time you have been working for them. This means that talented people can usually advance very quickly.

Here are some tips on etiquette in the Australian workplace:


  • Always arrive on time at your workplace and for meetings. Lateness is frowned upon in Australia.
  • Always shake hands when meeting someone for the first time at work: male and female.
  • Respect your boss but relate to them as an equal. The management structure of most companies in Australia is flatter than in many other countries i.e. the hierarchy is not as strictly defined.
  • Likewise, speak to everyone in your workplace as an equal, not just your boss. Taking an interest in the people working below you is a sign of an effective manager.
  • Don’t judge people on their race, gender, sexuality, or religion. This kind of discrimination could get you in trouble.
  • Jokes about race, gender, sexuality, or religion are not acceptable and could cause offence.
  • Exchange business cards with people you meet at external meetings. If you are not given a business card, don’t worry. This isn’t a sign of disrespect.
  • Always address someone by his or her first name. For example, if you meet John Smith, you would call him John rather than Mr Smith.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand something. It is better to ask a few questions than begin a task without any direction.
  • Remember to make eye contact with people in meetings and conversations, even your boss.
  • Try to keep private calls to a minimum at work. It is also polite to switch your mobile phone to silent mode while in the office.
  • It’s best not to gossip about your fellow workmates. This is unprofessional and could get you a reputation as someone who can’t be trusted.
  • Try not to rush out the door at the end of the day. For example, if your day finishes at 5:30, finish the task you are working on before leaving. Get a feel for how the company operates; some organisations expect their staff to work a bit later. Don’t get a reputation as a ‘clockwatcher.’