HR professor

Office Code of Conduct

In every society there are informal rules for social behavior. Similarly in a working environment, where hundreds of people congregate, it is important to have certain regulations for social behavior. This is the office code of conduct. Each office has its own code of conduct which is particularly designed to suit the organization's image.

Organization structure and communication channels are closely linked to the code of conduct laid out in offices. If companies have rigid codes of conduct, organization structure gets created to accommodate the strict standards. Autocratic leadership styles emerge, and communication is restricted to top-down. People find comfort in following the rule book and can work and thrive only in a preset working condition. Creativity is however limited, but discipline and regularity are maintained.

On the other hand, when companies operate on liberal codes of conduct with limited rules and regulations, organizations have democratic leaders, flexible work processes, open communication and loosely structured organizations. There could be chaos and conflicts in such organizations. Creative freedom of employees may be encouraged and people are open to change.

Without a formalized code of conduct, organizations cannot operate smoothly. Most organizations have documented codes of conduct, which are handed over to employees at the time of recruitment. Informal codes of conduct are passed through the informal channels of communication within organizations. Code of conduct can span across a wide range of behaviors: dress code, disclosure of salaries, team related behavior, moonlighting or freelancing during free time, use of office resources for personal work, travel and social interaction during work hours and many more.

The framework of codes of conduct should not put restrictions on the personal freedom of their employees. Rather it should set standards for good behavior and create a healthy working environment for all employees. For an organization to stay clear of dirty office politics, it is essential to frame reasonable and fair codes of conduct. Rules should not be made so easy that it is easy to jump the line; nor should they be so stringent that they encourage 'in the closet' activities. Rules should be enforceable on everybody without any prejudice or discrimination. With formidable and reasonable codes of conduct, organizations can focus on meeting real business challenges than on merely fire fighting.

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