Holiday Decorating Etiquette for Office Environments

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With the holidays fast approaching, it is necessary to revisit the question of whether or what types of seasonal decor are appropriate in public realms, including offices. Given the sheer number of hours spent in the workplace each and every week, it is only natural that many would like to see some cheerful holiday decorations this time of year.

Varying Viewpoints

Issues tend to surface when folks disagree about what sorts of decorations are acceptable and which holidays are in fact being marked. For many, there is an all-encompassing approach adopted, meaning that Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays are all included, though this certainly depends on the composition of the work staff. When this strategy works well, a great spirit of togetherness can be fostered. When it does not, there can be disappointment, hurt feelings and even serious offence taken by some. The best course of action may simply be for each company to promulgate its own policy regarding such questions, which should always be put into writing for all to see.

Lots of enterprises print regulations concerning the types of holiday decorations that are permitted and which are not, with safety reasons often being cited. As an example, it is common for the rules to state that all decor needs to be fire-resistant, that no candles ever be lit and that all lighting needs to have proper safety ratings. This stands true whether it is an office building, a hotel or a private serviced apartment. There must never be any impediments erected in exits or walkways. These questions are the easiest ones. The more vexing realm has to do with individual employees wishing to play holiday music at their workspaces, hang seasonal baubles or use scented items during the festive time of year. While these items can often bring great joy, others may view them as irritating distractions.

National Trends In Decor Policies

A survey was conducted in 2006 by the International Facilities Management Association regarding its members’ attitudes toward holiday decorations in the office. Nearly all respondents indicated that their staff members were free to utilise holiday decorations at work, with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa being most popular. From this category, roughly a quarter of the respondents revealed that problems had emerged, and 85 percent stating that the complaints prompted adjustments to internal policies. Damage to company property, safety worries and other issues were among the most common dilemmas. There were other firms that reported hosting contests within their offices in which employees compete to create the best holiday displays. However, there are always going to be dissenters. While many prefer as many decorations as possible, others view them as inappropriate due to the religious undertones they may convey.

The most popular opinion seems to be that employees wanting to decorate their own desk areas should be free to do so using their personal time, including prior to and after typical working hours or during lunchtime. Any decorations that are heavily religious in nature ought to be small and discreet, meant to be enjoyed primarily by the person placing them in their workspace. Things that are more secular in nature such as greenery and garland can be used more widely since they do not have heavy religious connotations.

Decorations Should be in Keeping With the Business

When it comes to decorating a publicly accessible space such as an office, it is important to make certain that the decorations are not in conflict with the work done by the enterprise more broadly. Toy manufacturers may want to be a bit over-the-top with their displays, while a financial institution may opt for something more subdued. This is the same principle that is used to govern the way employees dress. Ultimately, while there can be no doubt that holiday decor can go a long way toward brightening an otherwise cold and dreary season, it must not become a loud distraction or something that jeopardizes the safety or morale of employees.

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