Decorating the Office for the Holidays: Etiquette Tips

The holidays are nearly here, and it is time yet again for the annual discussion over what is acceptable – if anything is at all – for decorating seasonally in a public area. Many of us spend half our time working, so it’s not all that surprising that individuals want to lighten up their office areas with seasonal decorations. However, it’s vital to keep a few important etiquette tips in mind, to avoid causing issues in the workplace or accidentally offending one’s clients or coworkers.

Opinions on Appropriate Decoration Vary

Issues tend to arise when there are varying opinions about what types of decorations are appropriate and which holidays are being celebrated. In a large number of situations, we have mixed numerous holidays together, with the specific makeup depending on the individual office staff. In positive circumstances, this allows for pleasant interactions between co-workers. In less than perfect circumstances, it can create a conflict between individuals who want to express themselves and those who do not celebrate a seasonal holiday. It typically makes sense for the business to create a written procedure based on both safety issues and the general cultural makeup of their customers and employees.

Keep Safety in Mind

Often, organisations publish a list about what types of displays are allowed for the holidays and which ones are prohibited for safety reasons. For example – all decor should be flame retardant, lit candles are prohibited, and all lights should be rated for indoor use. Avoid blocking exits and walkways with Christmas trees or cutouts of Santa, and keep decorations from interfering with normal daily business. These types of guidelines are fairly simple and easy to understand but if you still unsure, seeking advice from building experts like HL Decorating Contractors will be hugely beneficial. It becomes more difficult when dealing with an employee who wants to listen to holiday music, hang flashing lights, or set out scented decorations. These holiday displays may make that person feel comfortable and happy, but they may be creating issues for others that share their environment.

Holiday Decor Policies Throughout the Country

The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) surveyed their members in 2006 about office decorating policies around the country. Ninety-four percent of those who responded said that employees where they worked decorated for holidays. Christmas had the largest percentage, then Hanukkah, then Kwanzaa. Of this group, twenty-five percent mentioned problems having to do with decorations, and eighty-five percent of these issues led to specific policy changes. Problems listed included excessive decorating, safety concerns, and facilities damage. Some individuals also mentioned that they have competitions in their offices for the best holiday displays in a variety of categories as a way to boost team morale. However, in the end, not everyone will be happy. For some, decorating for the holidays is typically about having as many attractive items as possible, while for others, no level of decoration will be appropriate due to the religious correlation.

Do Personal Decorating with Personal Time

The general consensus seems to be that employees should decorate on their own time and avoid imposing on their neighbours or their office mates individual space. Specifically religious symbols should be kept small and unobtrusive, in the owners’ private area. More common decor, such as wreaths and trees, is typically appropriate for everyone as it represents a commercialised and seasonal aspect of the holiday.

In addition, the decorating of public spaces should keep the business’s purpose in mind. A toy store may have large, exuberant displays, while those found in a bank may be smaller and more conservative. As with specific employee dress codes, the rules of holiday decorating should line up with the level of client interaction and the type of business. Work is work, and while decorating is a fun part of the season, it shouldn’t get in the way of the business being conducted, cause safety issues, or damage the company’s image.

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