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Office Etiquette: What’s OK and What’s Taboo in the Office in 2020

About one-third of companies now see no problem with employees donning visible tattoos (35%), casual attire (34%) and non-traditional hair colors (34%).

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New research from global staffing firm Accountemps reveals some do’s and don’ts for today’s workplace. While nearly all senior managers surveyed (91%) said organizations have loosened up over the past decade, certain behaviors are still frowned upon, the most common being using foul language (54%), bringing pets to the office (51%) and displaying political signs or messages (48%).

But about one-third of companies now see no problem with employees donning visible tattoos (35%), casual attire (34%) and non-traditional hair colors (34%).

According to a new Accountemps survey, using foul language (54%), bringing pets (51%) and displaying political décor (48%) are the top workplace behaviors that continue to be unacceptable. About one-third of companies now see no problem with employees donning visible tattoos (35%), casual attire (34%) and non-traditional hair colors (34%). View the data table for the full results: https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/job-market/dos-and-donts-for-todays-workplace.

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Managers who said the workplace has become more relaxed cited looser societal standards (59%) and companies catering to younger professionals (52%) as the top reasons for the shift.

Additional findings:

  • 1 in 3 employers said having nontraditional piercings (33%) and using casual language or emojis in emails (30%) were problematic in the past but are now acceptable.
  • Roughly 2 in 5 respondents reported that playing music without headphones (41%) and streaming sports events (39%) remain office no-nos.
  • In addition to exhibiting political décor at work (48%), senior managers said streaming political events (44%) and talking about politics (33%) are inappropriate.
  • Among the 28 U.S. cities in the survey, Charlotte, Denver and Pittsburgh have the most senior managers who said the workplace has become more relaxed.
  • While employers, in general, identified loosening societal standards as the top reason why office etiquette rules have changed, respondents in Miami and Tampa pointed to tech culture’s influence on organizations as the No. 1 impetus.

“Workplace policies today are designed to attract and retain employees, and that often means they’re more relaxed,” said Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. “There can also be unwritten rules of behavior or dress that are specific to a particular company or industry.”

Added Steinitz, “Staff shouldn’t feel like they’re walking on eggshells at work, but it’s important to be respectful of others and ensure your actions don’t cause a distraction or compromise your professional reputation.”