How To Navigate A Super Laid Back Office

One of the weirdest things about getting your first adult job is that each office has a different culture – some law offices are super strict, some start-ups can be confused for playgrounds, and then there’s the plain old laid back office. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the last one is kind of the hardest to navigate. Even though the super strict office is filled with a bunch of hard-o’s, you always know what’s expected of you. In the fun and fast-paced start-up office, you know that you need to embrace the work-hard-play-hard mentality.

In the laid back office… well that’s kind of hard to tell. There are no rules, which makes it super hard to know when you should be working and when you can be a bit more relaxed.

It can be kind of tough to navigate these laid back offices because it’s really hard to determine what’s appropriate and what’s not. To make sure you don’t lose your job (or, the more likely option, totally embarrass yourself), follow these rules:

Observe the tone.

Your best bet is to go pretty conservative when you first start out and do a lot of observation. Do people wear jeans? Start incorporating dark rinse into your work wardrobe and go from there. Do people take personal calls, text messages, or emails? Try to avoid them, and then maybe start phasing in important calls to see if it’s okay.

Starting off conservative is a really important component to this. Even if checking Facebook during the day is okay in your office and you’ve seen all of your co-workers do it, nobody exactly loves the brand-new hire who audaciously logs on in the first hour.

Don’t break the few rules you do have.

Even if your office is super laid back, you probably do have a few rules, like what time you get to and leave the office, or how long of a lunch break you take. While your office may sometimes seem like a super relaxed place, you need to respect the fact that there are these few rules. In fact, they might be extra important if they were explicitly announced. It’s pretty much that simple – you might be able to wear leggings to work, but you better be on time. (Pro tip: the best place to find the few office rules you have is in the employee handbook. Don’t have one? Ask your boss!)

Respect the boss.

Okay, so you’ve determined that your office is, in fact, super laid back. That can be really awesome, so hooray for you! There’s just one thing – you still probably should act like this is the most formal place in the world when your boss is around.

So maybe you don’t call her Ms. So-And-So every time you see her, or call her ma’am or other awkwardly formal things, but you do need to show her a good bit of respect. Always be productive around her, always be polite around her, and always be in the office when she’s in the office (unless she tells you that you can leave early).

Don’t abuse it.

Look. We get it. Your office lets you tweet during the day and that’s super awesome. But that doesn’t mean you should be scrolling through your feed more often than you’re not.

Because let’s be real: If you abuse it, you definitely lose it.

Try setting out the same kinds of goals you did when you would work on a huge school project or study for finals. You know you’re allowed to go on social media, but you also really should be doing work. Hop on when work is a little slower, or give yourself a free scroll through Insta when you finish a huge, hour-long project.