Workplace Etiquette in Canada

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on April 19, 2021


Many people overlook the importance of relationships and impressions at work. It’s important to build and maintain good relationships and a good reputation in the workplace because this can help you get ahead in your career or profession; for example, this may lead to promotions and new job opportunities. This article looks at what acceptable behavior in the workplace looks like and provides tips that you can use to build and maintain good relationships and a good reputation at work.

In the Workplace:

Be polite and kind and greet everyone the first time you see them

It’s important to be polite to everyone you come across at your workplace, as this can help you make good first impressions. First impressions can impact the way people treat you at work, so you want to always ensure that you make a good one. Try to greet everyone the first time you see them that day. After you greet them once, you do not have to greet them again, but it’s good to offer a small smile or nod when you see them. People tend to call their coworkers by their first names. If you’re speaking to two people who don’t know each other, make sure to introduce them to each other, as it can be seen as rude if you don’t. When doing so, use their full name as well as their title, if possible. For example, you can refer to someone as Mr. or Mrs/Ms. [first name] [last name]. Mrs and Ms. are used to refer to women and have different meanings. Mrs. is used to refer to women who are married while Ms. is used to refer to women who are single. If you’re unsure of someone’s marital status, you can use Ms. to be on the safe side.

Personal space

When at work, give people their personal space when talking to them. The general rule of thumb is to stand at least an arm’s length away from the person you’re speaking to. You also want to ensure that you respect people’s areas in the workplace, such as desks, cubicles, and offices. This means not touching the items in their personal work areas without their permission.

Mind your surroundings and office space

You are also expected to be mindful of your surroundings and the workspace. This means that you keep noise to a minimum to respect the space of others. Keep your phones on vibrate or silent mode, and use headphones as needed. If you have to have a personal phone conversation, take a step out of the office space. Try not to make any noise, as this can be distracting to people who are working. Being mindful of your space also means keeping your workspace, whether that be an office, desk, or cubicle, clean and organized.


At many workplaces, kitchens and restrooms are available for the staff to use. These are shared spaces, so you must tidy up after yourself and keep these areas clean. If you’re using the kitchen, wash any dishes you use and discard any trash that you may have. If you spill something, clean up after yourself. Don’t assume that someone will clean it up for you. This rule also applies to washrooms. You want to make sure that you’re cleaning up after yourself when you use the washroom. This includes ensuring that you have flushed the toilet and disposed of any trash and checking to see that you are not leaving the toilet seat dirty or up. Leave these shared spaces how they were when you entered them, clean and tidy.

Be mindful of time!

Time is important in Canada, especially in the workplace. Being late is considered to be disrespectful, especially if it’s over 10 minutes. Try to be five-to-ten minutes early if you can.

Be mindful of your company’s hierarchy.

In Canada, most workplaces have a top-down hierarchy. This means that the supervisors, managers, and bosses give instructions that are expected to be followed by the employees who are below them on the work hierarchy. For example, if you’re just starting a new job, it’s expected that you follow the instructions given to you by all your superiors, like your manager and supervisor. Ignoring this hierarchy can create a bad reputation and could even get you fired.

Be able to accept criticism; don’t take it personal!

A part of doing your job well is being able to accept criticism. You should be open to criticism and suggestions about ways you can improve your work. If someone gives you a piece of constructive criticism or a suggestion for improvement, don’t get upset and don’t take it personally.

Engage in small talk with your co-workers, but don’t be intrusive or gossip

Small talk is a large part of the workplace culture and an important part of building relationships at work. Engaging in small talk with your coworkers is seen as normal. The Newcomer has an article dedicated to small talk that you can read to better understand what it is. When engaging in small talk with your colleagues, don’t be intrusive by asking about details of their personal life or other sensitive topics. You should not participate in gossip about other people in your organization, as this can come back to haunt you and could create a negative impression of you.

Dress code

While at work, keep it professional and adhere to the dress code whether it be uniform or business-formal. Whatever you wear, ensure that your clothing looks clean and polished to make a good impression. Try not to wear dirty, stained, or revealing clothes to your job, as this can hurt your professional image.


Strong smells are not viewed favorably in the workspace. Many employers have a no-scent policy, as many people suffer from allergic reactions when exposed to strong smells. In general, it’s best to try and keep your smells to a minimum. For example, heating a tuna sandwich in the office microwave can leave a strong smell that can bother your coworkers. Wearing deodorant, avoiding strong perfumes or colognes, and using unscented products while at work, shows that you are sensitive to this matter.

Dealing with bosses and coworkers

In the workplace, you’re expected to treat your bosses more formally than your coworkers. It’s important to be mindful of this when speaking to your boss and colleagues. For example, if you need to speak to another employee, it’s normal to stop by their office. On the other hand, if you need to speak to your boss, you usually need to send them an email to ask for a suitable time to meet them. If you are in a managerial position, you’ll need to be formal with your employees and other colleagues due to your higher position. You set the example, so many people will expect professionalism and formality.


A good workplace etiquette tip that is often forgotten is to open the door or hold it open for others coming through. If you see someone coming towards the door around the same time as you, hold the door open for them and let them pass. Letting the door close in the face of a person who is going through the door at the same time as you can be seen as rude, and it leaves a bad impression.

Missing meetings and being absent

If you have to miss a meeting, don’t expect the organizer of the event to know this. Send a quick email or text message as soon as you know and let them know that you won’t be able to attend the event. Make sure you apologize for your absence when you send this message.

work team meeting

Social media and work

Social media should be kept separate from your professional life. Be careful with what you post on social media, as many people have gotten in trouble at work for what they have posted on their accounts. When posting online, pretend that everyone you work with could see what you are posting. This can help prevent you from posting something that could get you in trouble with your employers.


Email is an important form of communication in the workplace. This small section will cover some important information about how to write a professional email and include an example for you to view. Keep these tips in mind the next time you write a professional email!

Email address

If you’re using an email for professional and work-related purposes, make sure that your email is professional. A professional email address usually contains your name and numbers. An example of a non-professional email address could be something like or

Start and end with a greeting

When writing a professional email, start and end it off with a greeting. Don’t just jump straight to the message or end your email without a greeting. This is an important factor in making your email seem more professional.

  • Greetings to use at the start include dear [name of person], good morning, hi there, greetings, and hello.
  • Farewell greetings to use at the end include best, take care, thanks, and regards.

Be formal in your message

When writing a professional email, don’t use slang or abbreviations, as this can negatively affect the tone of your email. Another way to make sure your email is formal is to have an email signature that includes your name, job title, phone number, and email address. This signature goes at the end of your email and is a way of ending your email.

Keep the email as concise as possible

Try to not make the email longer than it has to be. Include all the key details in the email and save other non-relevant details for in-person conversations or follow-up emails.

Font—don’t use a colorful or decorative font

When sending professional emails, don’t use colorful or decorative fonts. It’s best to use standard fonts and size, such as size 11 or 12 Arial, Tahoma, or Calibri.

Don’t use emoticons or emojis

If you’re sending a professional email, don’t use emojis or emoticons, as this makes it too informal. Using emoticons or emojis in your email can give your professional email the wrong tone.

Edit before sending

Before you send off your email, do a quick spell check to fix any spelling errors that you might have missed. Spelling or grammar errors in emails are easily preventable mistakes.

Example of a professional email:

Situation: John is an employee at a company reaching out to another coworker to set up an appointment for a phone meeting.

Good afternoon Ms. Smith,

My name is John Doe from the Customer Service Department at XYZ Company.

I am writing this email to you today to see if you would be interested in setting up a time for us to chat in more detail about the project we spoke about last week. I would like to set up a phone interview, so we could discuss the project and your expectations in more detail.

If you’re interested, please let me know what time would work best for you.


John Doe
Manager of Customer Service

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