News and advice on business etiquette — June/July 2014

How to deal with colleagues who are constantly late for meetings, fun facts on the latest must-have item in business circles, and more.


Q: How should I deal with a colleague who is constantly late for department meetings, conference calls and client business reviews?

A: Ah, the office latecomer; he’s the coworker who follows his own schedule and often can’t be counted on to be on time for anything — except bolting out of his office at lunch hour and quitting time. But should his colleagues call him out on his ill-mannered conduct? "The colleague who’s perpetually late for everything and everyone shouldn’t be enabled. If he is consistently 20 minutes late for meetings, don’t wait for him to arrive. That’s disruptive to everyone but the culprit," says Karen Cleveland, an etiquette expert in Toronto. "Instead, carry on with business as usual. If he arrives late, bows out or has to scramble to get caught up, it shouldn’t affect the overall team or the success of a project," she adds. If there’s only one person in the department who isn’t checking his watch regularly, there’s no need to change anything on your end. "That said, if you’ve scheduled an 8 a.m. meeting that everyone struggles to be on time for, consider asking around for a more mutually agreeable time," says Cleveland.

— Lisa van de Geyn


Walk your way to efficiency

Employers looking for an easy way to boost staff productivity may soon tap into a new trend: the treadmill desk. In a year-long study conducted by the University of Minnesota, workers at a financial services company who were set up with a computer, phone and writing space on a desk in front of a treadmill saw a 10% increase in productivity in terms of quantity and quality of performance, as well as quality of interaction with colleagues. Already a must-have workplace accessory for celebrities such as late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel and fashion designer Victoria Beckham, the treadmill desk is gaining popularity in business circles for its return on investment, says the study’s lead author Avner Ben-Ner. "I think an increasing number of employers will invest US$1,000 or US$2,000 in outfitting a person’s work- station [since] the employer benefits from the employee being active, healthy and smart[er]."

— Tamar Satov


Dude, where’s my office?

Nearly 40% of employees blame traffic when they’re late for work, according to a survey by US recruiter CareerBuilder. But others must think creativity counts when it comes to tardiness. How else to explain these most memorable employee excuses cited by hiring managers and human resource professionals:

  • I forgot the company changed locations
  • My cat got stuck in the toilet
  • I fell asleep in the car when I got to work
  • A hole in the roof made rain fall on my alarm clock and it didn’t go off
  • I accidentally put superglue in my eye instead of contact lens solution and had to go to the ER
  • I got a hairbrush stuck in my hair
  • A zebra ran down the highway and held up traffic (apparently true).

— Tamar Satov