It’s amazing what people don’t think to tell you when you’re new to their place of business. Everyone should be required to work somewhere new for a “first day” about once a year to remember what it’s like. Someone who’s worked in the same office for months of years forgets, so you’ll have to remind them.

Every new employee needs to know at the absolute minimum:

· Where to park
· Dress code, especially Friday’s
· What the hours are – arrival, lunch and departure
· Do you go to lunch at a certain time, or work around others’ lunch hours
· Is there a time clock? How does it work?
· Location of restrooms, break room, cafeteria
· Where is the first-aid kit
· If you’re answering the phone, how do they prefer it be answered
· Where do messages go
· How does the coffee machine work? Are you expected to make it?
· Location of nearby restaurants if there’s no on-site cafeteria
· How to work the necessary office machines – codes, etc.
· Where the supplies are kept and how to get them
· Names and positions of other employees you’ll interact with
· Any information you need to know about your immediate supervisor – How does she like her phone messages? Do you communicate by email or in person? Is it a closed-door policy?
· If you’re new, have you filled out all the paperwork? If you’re a temp, who signs your timesheets and what’s the process?
· Have others been informed about your name, position and length of hire if a temp

Don’t be shy about requesting all this information when you first arrive. It can seem awkward to inquire about the coffee and restrooms, but these are things you need to know.

How to handle this?

The best thing to do is be proactive. Arrive with a list of these items in your hand. You can probably think of other important things you need to know to add to it. When you’re greeted and ushered to your desk, request that the person answer some questions which will allow you to do your work better. Then proceed through your list.

It’s unfortunate that you’ll have to deal with the fact that many people think their way of doing things is the only way of doing things, or the way that everyone does this. When you ask how to answer the phone, you may be given a look like “Don’t you even know how to do that?” The fact is that there are many professional and acceptable ways to answer a phone, and most businesses have their own personal preference. You can’t know ahead of time, so don’t be apologetic for asking.

In the best of circumstances, you’ll be given a tour of the offices. Depending upon how good you are at orienting yourself, this can be helpful but also confusing. If it all seems like a maze for you, note landmarks as you pass by. For instance, the door that leads to the stairway where the restrooms are is just to the left of the woman with the red hair.

As you’re given the tour, pay attention to who is friendly and might be helpful. You’ll have lots of questions in the early hours and days, and it’s good to know who might be a nice resource person for you. How can you tell? They look up and smile at you, stand up to shake your hand, or even offer to help. In well-run offices, employees are professionally friendly and helpful to one another and have enough EQ to remember what it’s like to be the new kid on the block. They realize everyone works more productively when acclimated, informed, and assisted.

In fact your introductory tour is a good way to test the waters for the company culture. If people are cold, unfriendly, or seem annoyed by the interruption and are impatient with your questions, things are probably going to get worse, and it’s a shame you didn’t know this beforehand. If it does continue, you’ll at least have the information that it was them, not you, that’s the problem.

Such places generally have high turnover, low morale, burnout and absenteeism, which is why you might be there as a temp in the first place. More companies all the time are requiring overwhelming workloads of employees, and when the employees yell loud enough and long enough or start staying out sick or threatening to quit, they will begrudgingly hire a temp rather than create a badly-needed permanent full-time position. If you’re a new permanent hire, you can also be walking into an office that’s in pain and stressed out. These things were created by others and there when you arrived.

Observe office etiquette, be tactful and observant. It’s bad form to comment on things you see that aren’t well done (unless you were hired to change things), so for the time being, just grin and bear it. Maintain a positive and professional attitude yourself and put your best foot forward. Conservative, businesslike attire, a sincere desire to be helpful, and consistent accountability in your work are important and will be appreciated.

Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA, Personal Life & EQ Coach, . Offering individual coaching, Internet courses and ebooks for your personal and professional development. for free ezine. I train and certify EQ coaches. Email for information on this fast, affordable, comprehensive, no-residency program.