Decorating Etiquette for Your Office

The holidays are right around the corner, which means it is time to think about the seasonal decorations that you will use in your public places. Oftentimes, this results in a war over what is and what is not appropriate. Most people spend half of their waking hours at work; so it is no wonder that they want their workplace livened up with holiday and seasonal decorations.

Differing Opinions

The issues that arise when choosing holiday decorations is often due to the differing opinions of appropriate holiday decorations and which holiday is decorated for and celebrated. Most people have chosen an all-in mentality where Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa decorations are used throughout the office. Using this tactic can help foster camaraderie amongst co-workers. However, if it is not handled properly, it can lead to a battle over personal expressions and the rights of those who do not celebrate the holiday, which can lead to an all-out war amongst your employees. One way to counteract these problems is to establish a written policy based on safety issues and the cultural makeup of your employees and customers.

Many organisations post rules that clearly state what is acceptable and what is not acceptable based on safety regulations. For example, HL Decorating Contractors recommend companies to require all decorations be flame retardant. It may further state that lights must be rated for indoor usage and no candles can be lit. Exits and walkways should be free of decorations that can impede the flow of traffic into and out of the business. These regulations are straightforward and simple. The harder things to navigate are the decorations around an employee’s workspace like the holiday music that is played, if scented pinecones can be placed in the area or blinking lights can be hung. Although these items may make an individual happy, they can infringe on their neighbouring employees’ rights for a number of reasons.

Holiday Decoration Policies Around the Country

The International Facilities Management Association took a survey in 2006 asking about their member’s holiday decorating policies across the country. Ninety-four per cent of all respondents stated that employees were allowed to decorate their offices for the holidays. Decorating for Christmas was the largest percentage of decorating choices with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa following. Twenty-five per cent of those surveyed reported that problems arose concerning decorations. Eighty-five per cent of the complaints filed led to changes in the company’s policies. The most common reasons for holiday decor policy changes were due to safety issues, damage to the facilities and excess holiday decorating. Some survey respondents stated that they held contests for the best displays across several different categories, including the funnies and the prettiest to help boost employee morale. However, ultimately, everyone in the office will not be satisfied with your decisions because some people believe that more is better when it comes to decorating for the holidays and others believe no holiday displays are appropriate because of the implied religious subtexts.

Consensus agrees that employees who wish to decorate their personal spaces should do so on their own time either before or after work or during their lunch break. Furthermore, the decorations should not impose on their neighbouring employees in any way. Religious symbols like nativities should be unobtrusive and small to prevent offending neighbouring employees. Common decorations like snowmen, Santas and garland are typically more acceptable because they represent the commercialised aspects of the holiday season.

Finally, public spaces of the office should be decorated while embracing the company’s business. For example, a toy company or store should have elaborate displays using their toys while a banking firm should take a conservative approach to holiday decorations. When it comes to decorating rules, they should be based on the interaction of clients and customers as well as employees. Although decorating for the holidays is fun, it should not impede the safety of your employees and customers, the professional image of your business or the ability to work.