Most workplaces have come a long way from their staid, awkwardly formal former days. Some companies are extending Casual Fridays to the rest of the work week. Others are giving their employees more leeway than ever to work remotely and with flexible hours. And if you鈥檙e reallylucky, you might even get to clock in to a dog-friendly office. Seriously, what a time to be alive.

While the tone at some companies seems to have calmed way down in recent years, there remains an uneasiness for many of us about what kind of information is appropriate to share with employers and colleagues. If, in 2018, jeans are acceptable on a Tuesday, is it also okay to talk openly about personal matters with the people who sign our paychecks? These subjects were once considered taboo, of course, but should they still be kept quiet?

SimplyHired recently surveyed 1,000 American employees about the state of candor in the modern workplace. While the percentage of people who admit to actively keeping secrets from their employers is pretty low 鈥 just eight percent, for example, say they鈥檝e hidden a pregnancy, while a third have lied about a doctor鈥檚 appointment 鈥 there remains a gray area for many of us about what is and isn鈥檛 up for discussion when we cross the office threshold.

To help eliminate this gray area once and for all, we turned to etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer for her opinion on many of the issues covered in the SimplyHired survey. The key takeaway? Outside of your close friends, most of the people you work with really don鈥檛 need to know what鈥檚 happening in your personal life. Keep scrolling for more of Schweitzer鈥檚 expertise.

keep it on the down low

  • Doctor鈥檚 Appointments + Health Issues:聽鈥淭hese are both on a need-to-know basis,鈥 Schweitzer says. 鈥淵our co-workers don鈥檛 need to know the details of your health issues. However, communicating with HR and your supervisor about mental and physical health issues that impact your attendance, availability, or job performance as required by policy relieves the pressure to act as though everything is fine.鈥 Basically, if you鈥檙e managing complicated health issues that are going to affect you on the job, it鈥檚 important that you let key players know so they can support and cover for you 鈥 but you鈥檙e under no obligation to tell every person you work with. If you鈥檙e聽stepping out for a routine doctor鈥檚 appointment, request a personal day and don鈥檛 go into the details.
  • Tears:聽It鈥檚 one thing to pull your work BFF aside if you鈥檙e having a particularly emotional day and need a shoulder to cry on, but being more open about your feels with the larger population around the office is probably not such a good idea. Among the women who participated in the SimplyHired study, 52 percent cop to hiding tears from their coworkers at some point. If you鈥檙e feeling weepy, consider taking a walk around the block to collect yourself instead of asking your boss for a tissue.
  • Politics:聽Have we learned nothing from the highly charged political climate of the last year? While discussions about current events聽play an important role in holding us accountable for the important things happening in the world around us, they aren鈥檛 exactly聽appropriate for the office. Political chatter might be a customary part of water cooler culture around your workplace 鈥 according to SimplyHired, just 26 percent of people actively keep their political votes secret from employers聽(and interestingly, a higher concentration of Democrats) 鈥 but Schweitzer suggests that you proceed with caution on this subject.
  • Side Hustles + Part-Time Gigs:聽Working a part-time job may be a violation of company policy, and even if your awesome new side hustle doesn鈥檛 technically interfere with your day-to-day tasks, sharing about it聽too much might raise eyebrows about your commitment to your employer. Unless you know for a fact that you risk getting fired by聽not sharing updates about a secondary job with the boss, it鈥檚 best to play these matters close to the chest.
  • Religion:聽According to Schweitzer, unless your workplace considers religion a BFOQ 鈥 a bona fide occupational qualification, or an attribute that employers are legally allowed to consider as part of the hiring process 鈥 there鈥檚 no need to disclose information about your convictions to anyone except your office pals.

sharing聽might actually be caring

  • Social Media:聽There is a range of opinions on this one, but Schweitzer doesn鈥檛 see any problem with sharing your social media handles with people in the workplace 鈥 including your boss 鈥 as long as you keep things relatively professional. Nervous about this one? Schweitzer recommends creating alternate accounts for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Snapchat. You can also use certain platforms more openly than others.聽With either of these plans, you can gracefully accept your supervisor鈥檚 friend request without worrying they鈥檒l be too up in your business, because you can share your personal life more freely elsewhere!
  • An Interoffice Relationship:聽Check your company handbook to find out what鈥檚 allowed. If the policy states that you need to disclose your romance with that cutie in accounting, you shouldn鈥檛聽keep your love a secret. Use discretion聽when talking about your relationship with people who don鈥檛 really聽need to know about it.
  • Your Own Criminal History:聽Assuming you鈥檝e been hired and there鈥檚 nothing written in the company policy about keeping mum on previous mischief, you should feel free to share (to the extent that you鈥檙e comfortable, at least).
  • Concerns About Another Employee:聽Sometimes, secrets aren鈥檛 your own to tell鈥 but if you find out about them and they鈥檙e the kinds of secrets that affect your company鈥檚 bigger picture, it鈥檚 your responsibility to let the boss know. Schweitzer notes that you should tell your boss if you find out that a coworker is stealing company property, abusing an expense account, or lying about their family circumstances for insurance purposes (yes, apparently, this is something people do). Be a hero and tell the truth.

Do any of these etiquette expert-approved dos and don鈥檛s surprise you? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)