For the lucky ones who’ve managed to wing themselves an amazing job straight out of University, this guide will help you get through the first month of your office job mistake free.

Dress down day

A bit like non-uniform day at school but not as good. You’ll probably be complaining at having to style out smart office wear within a month of starting, but the alternative can be far worse. Dress down days at work (usually for charity or when there’s a heatwave) can be a nightmare. The big question is: How casual can you actually be? A lot of people get this wrong, end up baring all, and subsequently end up been speedily shuffled into a meeting room with the Human Resources department.

Tip: No matter how relaxed you think your company is, it’s better to be a bit over dressed than being THAT guy who wore THAT combo of shorts and sandals – you’ll never live that one down.

 Lift buddies

It’s 8.59 and you rush to the lobby of your building – the lifts are on the ground floor so you’ve made it! There’s a good chance of sneaking to your desk by 9.01 and nobody will ever know that you cut it this close. But before you know it, a hand catches the lift doors as they’re closing shut. Your heart stops as someone you recognise enters the lift. They’re like really important – you KNOW they’re important but you just can’t quite place them! This is it. You’re on your own. Do you dare say a word?

Tip: Make sure you know who the top dogs are in the early days of your new job. Learn their names, find out what they do, and more importantly, find out what they look like because this fictional scenario can happen anywhere – the staff kitchen, the gym. And god forbid you might even bump into them outside, in the real world.

 Which mug can I use?

You steal someone’s mug and you’ll have hell to pay. Emails fly around from angry colleagues eager to point the finger at the unfortunate soul who has dared to drink a hot beverage out of their mug. Make sure that’s not you!

Yes, it may seem surprising at first but people tend to be extremely protective over their £1 Wilko mugs so be careful which one you pick. Unfortunately when you open the cupboard it can be hard to work out which one is least likely to belong to someone else. Obviously stay away from the personalised ugly kid mugs, the Disney ones and Football clubs (not least because someone will always have an opinion on this one). But beware, because even the chipped and dirty ones will be precious to someone too.

Tip: The easiest solution? Bring your own.

 Wrong rooms

First day at work, the intern walks into a room. Everyone turns to look at him, he smiles nervously and says hello. Through all the stares, the hero of our story walks confidently yet quietly across the room to the small coffee machine located at the far end and carefully pours himself a delicious cup of milky coffee. Unfortunately for him, this was not the chill out area, and that coffee was certainly not for him but for the really important board members about to commence their monthly board meeting.

Tip: The moral of this story is to double check with a colleague first where the kitchen is located and not just plough into a room because you’ve spotted some free coffee.

 Careful lunch choices

Within a week of starting your new job, you’ll be bored of Tesco meal deals. You’ve spotted a microwave in the kitchen and suddenly your lunch options are limitless (ish)! Monday you brought in some delicious homemade tomato soup, Tuesday it was your leftover carbonara, Wednesday the delicious fish pie you made last night, Thursday it’s…. wait a second there. Re-wind a little. Fish Pie? FISH PIE?

You can’t bring FISH PIE into the office, that’s borderline anti-social!

Indeed, you’ll soon find that the smell of other people’s lunches are not very pleasant, so make sure you’re never the person to stink out the whole office with your reheated prawns and smoked haddock.

Tip: You can be creative with your lunches but try and steer clear from fish, broccoli and strong cheeses.


These are the tips people won’t tell you before starting a new job. Feeling prepared and confident is important for a stress free first week. For more information, check out the resources below to help you prepare for the big day:

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