The troubled state of our economy has translated into a shift in the dynamics between employers and their employees, and many people believe this is the appropriate time for working individuals to reassess their workplace conduct to ensure it is professional and appropriate. These circumstances set the framework for the new book No Sneakers at the Office. In it, author Adam Scholl sets out to provide readers with guidance so they can thrive in a wide range of workplace situations.
The book covers a wide range of topics, from appropriate workplace attire, to how to communicate effectively via e-mail, to how to behave in meetings, to how to effectively manage time at work. While a significant amount of information is covered, the value derived from it will depend upon the reader’s level of sophistication with these issues. Those who have been working for a number of years are likely to be well-versed on the importance of “never allowing nose or ear hair to be visible to others” and to “never eat raw onions at a business lunch,” as well as how to draft an appropriate out-of-office message on their e-mail and voicemail accounts. Others, however, might need some guidance about appropriate grooming as well the type of information that should be included in an out-of-office message, such as the name of a person to contact in the event of an emergency.
The best use of this guide is likely as a first step in obtaining an education about appropriate workplace decorum, but it probably should not be used as a source for definite answers as to what is acceptable. This is because, in a number of instances, the author makes statement which may not be universally acceptable. For example, he proclaims that an individual must spend at least 30 minutes completing an expense report for each week of covered expenses, and that in most instances business memos should be no longer than one page. He also instructs employees to put signs in their cubicles when attending a meeting indicating its location, and to use sick days when sick because “getting others sick will cause more problems than if you take one or two days off from work to get better.” Although advice such as this might be applicable, the appropriateness of it will like depend upon the culture of an individual’s workplace as well as the specific expectations of a particular supervisor.
Notwithstanding this criticism, however, No Sneakers at the Office is written in clear, concise language and does provide an overview of a wide range of issues that might materialize in the workplace. Further, even though some of the information might seem to be common sense - since most of us are working in workplace environments that are more competitive than ever before - there is certainly value to be derived from a general refresher course about basic etiquette along with some other guidance and counsel about how to handle some basic (and some not-so-basic) tasks. At the very least, anyone who considers purchasing this title should be savvy enough to toss the workplace sneakers and invest in some appropriate footwear, which is likely to be an improvement in and of itself.