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Kira Vermond: Office etiquette can be treacherous

You walk into your company washroom one day and your co-worker's there. She's got a toothbrush in one hand, a tube of paste in the other. and she's spitting into the sink.
 
Brushing teeth at work. Good oral hygiene? Or an office faux pas?
 
cubicles.jpgAnyone who has tried to wade through the murky waters of business etiquette can tell you that knowing right from wrong, isn't always easy. Do you wear jeans on business casual days? Or kakis? Do you shake a client's hand after a meeting, or only before it starts?

But when it comes to hygiene at the workplace, etiquette can get even trickier.
 
Hey, what one person calls cleanliness, another calls foul.
 
Take clipping your nails at your desk. It's been known to happen. And surveys tell us some people think it's pretty gross.
 
But what's worse? Not washing your hands after using the toilet. and then shaking someone's hand.
 
So there's always a place for some personal care while at work.
 
The trick is knowing where the line is drawn. And that line does seem to be getting pushed around a bit these days. More of us are brushing our hair, washing our faces, putting on deodorant, shaving and, yes, brushing our teeth while on the job. Some companies even require that employees pull out a toothbrush before meeting a client.
 
There's a good reason for all of this. We're spending more time either at work, or commuting to work. So the office washroom? It becomes our home-away-from-home bathroom.
 
Still, we call it "personal care" for a reason. It's supposed to be private. So what should you know before pulling out the tweezers?
 
Number one: Get gussied up away from people. That means brushing hair or putting on deodorant in the washroom, not in your cubical.
 
The same goes for makeup. That's because using cosmetics is actually one of the reasons why women's workspaces have three to four times the number of bacteria in, on, and around their desks than men's.
 
Number two: If you don't feel comfortable brushing your teeth at work, drink water, or pop a mint. Your co-workers will thank you.
 
Number three: Make sure you clean up after yourself. Place a paper towel beside the sink and rest your toothbrush there. Use plenty of water to rinse away your spit. And if you have to, wipe out the sink.
 
Ultimately, hygiene etiquette is dictated by corporate culture. If everyone else is doing it, it's okay for you too.
 
But if you're the lone brusher? Just do the job quick - and leave the floss at home.

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