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Some employees are struggling with the return to office. Now, the workplace etiquette industry is booming

A growing number of companies are seeking out workplace etiquette training as workers return to the office, bringing habits from the work-from-home era back with them. (iStockphoto/Getty Images via CNN Newsource) A growing number of companies are seeking out workplace etiquette training as workers return to the office, bringing habits from the work-from-home era back with them. (iStockphoto/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
New York City -

Many companies had to manage employee discontent when calling them back to the office as risks from the COVID-19 pandemic eased.

And now that they’re back, employers are having to address a new issue: some employees have forgotten how to behave in the office.

Demand for workplace etiquette training has surged over the past two years as companies grapple with the fact that some employees brought their at-home habits back to the office and others had little experience in a professional setting in the first place. More than 60 per cent of companies plan to implement etiquette courses for staff this year, according to a survey of more than 1,500 business leaders published in July by job seeker service company Resume Builder.

The growing workplace etiquette business is just the latest example of companies’ efforts to adjust to the hybrid work era — ensuring that they have productive teams while keeping workers happy.

Anne Chertoff, chief operating officer at New York-based etiquette consultancy Beaumont Etiquette, said the firm has experienced a 100 per cent increase in companies requesting trainings over the past two years, with demand coming from employers of all kinds.

“It’s like people just got out of practice in some ways,” Chertoff said. “If you just got used to taking your lunch plate and putting it next to the sink, that’s what you’re still doing. So, you have to learn and remember that, no, you have to wash your dish because you’re not at home, you’re at the office.”

Many office workers will likely be familiar with the most common workplace behavior faux pas: things like coworkers who aren’t mindful of their volume while on the phone and employees who leave a mess around the office, as well as inappropriate office conversations, awkward introductions and novel-length emails.

Companies have also struggled with issues such as employees not knowing how to dress appropriately for the office or “people sending emojis and acronyms that might have double triple meanings,” Chertoff said.

Some workers still struggle with what exactly to wear for a Zoom call. (Hint: In case you have to get up from the computer for some reason, Chertoff advises not to go too casual on the bottom.)

It’s not just in-person trainings — office etiquette tips have become popular fodder for social media content, from TikTok videos to LinkedIn courses.

“Let me give you all the tips that I wish somebody had told me when I started my corporate job,” Mary Knoeferl, known online as “Mary the Analyst,” said in a TikTok video viewed by more than 41,000 users last year. In the video, she detailed advice such as how to tell a coworker you don’t have the answer to their question and avoiding use of personal computers for work.

Although workers in all stages of their careers can benefit from a workplace etiquette refresher, such training is especially important for Gen Z employees who are just starting out their careers, Chertoff said. Many of those younger workers missed out on opportunities to practice professional behaviour in college and in-person internships because of disruptions from the pandemic and may have started their first jobs working from home.

Increasingly colleges and universities are also offering — in some cases, requiring — courses on skills like networking and business dinners.

“Soft skills are just as important or more important than the technical skills that you learn,” Chertoff said. “If you’re making your colleagues uncomfortable … or your behavior is inappropriate in an office setting, or your behavior is inappropriate with clients, you’re going to lose your job or you’re going to get demoted from your position.” Top Stories

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