how to be a good social work colleague

How to be a good social work colleague

By Gemma Raw

Whether you’ve worked in the same social work team for most of your career, or are joining a new team, you’ll be aware that whatever the role, wherever the location, each office has the same unwritten rule book!

So what can we expect to find in social work teams up and down the country? We take a light-hearted look at some common office politics.

1. Be aware of others needs

The number one rule in any office goes without saying – simply be aware of the needs of your peers and colleagues. This may be something as minor as holding a door open, or answering someone’s phone if they’ve stepped away from their desk for a minute. Or it could be something a bit more serious like being aware of how your mood can affect those around you.

As much as social work is rewarding, it can also be tough. By being sensitive to others and thinking about how they may be feeling, you can help to create a much more enjoyable working environment.

2. Only hold meetings when needed

There is never enough time in the day to complete all the tasks you need to do, so before you schedule a team meeting, think about whether it’s necessary. Sometimes a phone call or email could work better. If you are setting up a meeting between lots of people, try to be selective about who needs to be there – not everyone has time in the day to attend a lengthy meeting.

You could try to be more efficient and make better use of technology – if attendees are coming from different offices etc, why not try a conference call via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout? It may not make a difference to the length of the meeting itself, but could cut down on travel time, making the meeting more effective for all attendees.

3. Don’t have an irritating ringtone

We know that your phone will be permanently attached to your hand – if you are expecting to take lots of calls during the day, please try and reduce the volume of your ringtone so that it doesn’t disturb your co-workers.

4. Dress professionally

It may sound silly, but another common unwritten rule of the office is to always dress professionally. The last thing you want is to be talked about in the office for what you wear – you want your work to speak for you. Think about what situations you have planned for the diary and dress accordingly.

5. Make tea

Most important of all – if you’re making yourself a cup of tea or a coffee, make sure you ask your nearby co-workers if they fancy one as well! Offering to make a stressed co-worker a hot drink can show support and kindness and make you the ideal colleague!

Find out why social workers love working with Sanctuary, register today!We have written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your social work career.