Elevator Etiquette – The 20 Basics

Whether you work in a hotel, hospital or any other type of high-rise building, elevator etiquette should be followed with the same rigor as any other customer service standard. Why? Because so often a brief elevator encounter initiates the first impression made of your organization by visiting customers, guests, patients, vendors, and co-workers.

Most organizations don’t teach elevator etiquette, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to provide a few simple basics that everyone can adhere to. These basics cover three elements of the elevator experience: boarding, riding, and existing or disembarking.

  1. When boarding, always acknowledge individuals who are already on the elevator with a warm and friendly greeting like good morning, good afternoon, or good evening.
  2. If you are rushing to catch the elevator, politely ask that someone “hold the elevator please”.
  3. If you are carrying large objects or are traveling with a large group, wait for an empty elevator. Likewise, if someone boards and needs assistance – politely offer to help them.
  4. Don’t re-push the elevator call button after someone has already pushed it, as this could imply that you don’t trust the person that has already pushed the button.
  5. If you arrive as a door is closing, regardless of how many people are in the elevator, don’t press the button. Patiently wait for the door to close completely, then press the button to call the next elevator.
  6. If you accidental press an elevator button and the door opens on the wrong floor, don’t ignore it — politely apologize for the mistake.
  7. Once in the elevator, be mindful to stand as close to the wall or corner as possible, to make room for additional riders.
  8. If you are standing in front of the elevator panel, ask on-boarding riders which floor they would like and press the button for them.
  9. Many people prefer to ride an elevator in silence; therefore when in the elevator, be mindful of your conversations with co-workers, especially in the presence of external customers (i.e., clients, patients, family members, vendors, or guests).
  10. Step aside for people exiting the elevator, and be sure not to block the door when the elevator stops.
  11. Never attempt to hold the elevator door with your body or hand; always use the HOLD button.
  12. If you are sick, carry a handkerchief or tissues to cover your mouth and nose in case you need to sneeze or cough.
  13. Reframe from using your Cell Phone while riding in the elevator, except in an emergency.
  14. When exiting the elevator, out of courtesy always allow customers, patients, vendors and guests to disembark first. Gentlemen, always allow ladies to exit first unless you are blocking the door.
  15. If you are trapped in the back of a crowded elevator and you need to get off, call out “my floor” to alert other riders that you wish to get off, and move slowly but firmly through the crowd.
  16. If you see someone struggling to get off an elevator, politely step out to make room, and then step back in.
  17. To save yourself from embarrassment, always check the direction of the elevator (up or down) before boarding. If you cannot see an indicator lamp, politely ask the riders which direction the elevator is traveling. DO NOT stop the doors from closing to do this.
  18. If you are going up or down one floor, use the stairs, especially during peak traffic times like the morning or afternoon rush.
  19. Exceptions are when you have a cart or large package(s); when the elevator is empty; or if you are disabled or injured.
  20. If you see a person alone on the elevator that you don’t feel comfortable/safe being alone with in close quarters, wait for the next elevator.