Nathan James Page
1. Never leave first
Everyone in the office has a contract plainly stating that, come 5.30pm, they're a free agent. But whoever dares to leave first will be subject to glares for the entire walk of shame from desk to door. Yes, Janet, we know you're seven months pregnant, already a single mother of three under-fives and living with your elderly parents, but this applies to you too. Leave before 10pm and there's a good chance all your Christmas bonus will amount to is one lone Cadbury Hero. The fudge one, Janet.
2. Never send an email to ALL
The amount of work you could achieve in the time you spend opening emails that are irrelevant to you - no, Mike, we haven't seen your ClipFresh Tupperware container lying around the office - just doesn't bear thinking about. If someone's eaten your lunch and you want to let off some steam by sending out a passive-aggressive, hangry warning to colleagues, feel free. But remember the golden rule: start your ALL email with 'Sorry for the ALL email'. Them's just the rules.
3. Take everyone's job titles seriously
When Simon the brand warrior asks you to send a few emails on his behalf, you must graciously comply. And when Susie the office rationaliser asks you to pass her the milk, you should do so with a completely straight face. Do you know how many years of pleading in appraisals it took to get those grandiose job titles? These people deserve respect. And that includes Brian the HR sergeant.
4. Never put fish in the microwave. Ever
If your work kitchen doesn't have a 'Do NOT put fish in the microwave pls!!!' Post-It note stuck on a noticeboard with 20 pins, it must be because the powers that be deem it common knowledge. Never, under any circumstances, put something in the microwave that is, looks like, rhymes with or in any way resembles 'fish'. So what if two-desks-down Dave smells like a bomb's gone off on a skunk farm and Wendy has a distinct air of cow manure about her? Keep those prawns away from the microwave.
5. Pretend to understand all office jargon
Going forward, everyone must align their bluesky thinking so we're all on the same page before end of play. How else are you supposed to achieve traction? Absorb office chatter like you're a one-year-old learning to speak for the first time. It's simply a matter of survival. Otherwise you'll get shelved, put to one side, placed on the back burner... you get the picture.
By Jessica Brown, who can't find her favourite mug anywhere.
Illustrations: Nathan James Page