I was temporarily relocated to a different location by my company and people at the new location have helped me to set everything up. I interrupted one colleague a couple of times because of minor questions (e.g., how do I connect to this printer? Who is responsible for this and that? May I get a different keyboard and so on).

Sometimes, I would walk back to my office and make use of whatever information he gave me. I'd then like to thank him, but I don't really want to interrupt him again. Should I send a short "thank you" email although he is just a couple of steps away? Or just mention it the next time I see him?

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    I would feel really weird if someone sent me "thank you" email for some basic help (like showing where the toilet is). Asking for help and helping others is a part of the job. But if you really want to thank someone, you should mention it next time you see him.
    – jusio
    Aug 1 '12 at 20:51
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    Dude, take him to lunch. I would! Then you have an opportunity to continue to get more intelligence on your location, while paying him back at the same time!
    – Aaron Hall
    Mar 24 '14 at 15:55

If you are saying "thank you" verbally at the end of your conversations, there is no need to send an email once you get back to your office. If you're not saying "thank you" verbally at the end of your conversations, you should start.

If one person in the office goes above and beyond the call of duty in helping you get settled in, you may want to bring in a token of appreciation for him once you're all settled in. It should generally be relatively inexpensive-- the gesture is the important part. Cookies, cupcakes, a gift card to the local coffee shop, etc. are common choices depending on the recipient.


I send thank you emails all the time (at least three so far this week). If someone has helped me, I want it on record for them. It makes people feel good to be appreciated. If you write the thank you, it is something they can use in their performance evals to show what a fine and stalwart employee they are. I certainly mention the number of thanks yous I get in my eval.

If someone goes out of his or her way to help (or the help was critical on a high priority project that the client is particularly interested in), I send the email to his or her boss as well.

We have an awards program that we can submit such things to as well and I make frequent use of it (although that is overkill for someone helping you get set up). Thanking people this way has helped me have good relationships with my co-workers and makes them more likely to want to help me the next time I need it.

It would be a rare case indeed where someone would not be pleased to get a written thank you.

  • Just for the record, my boss was at one point getting annoyed with me for taking out time to help people with their hardware issues (I'm supposed to be doing software, you see). I wasn't about to let them sit there for a week until someone would come to, say, get their monitor to display correctly instead of rotated 90 degrees. But I really didn't want him to get CC'd that I had helped.
    – sq33G
    Aug 2 '12 at 8:31

It is never a bad practice to be polite, and to thank people for their help. Politeness is an underrated thing in the workplace.

A big reason some people leave an otherwise good position is because of feeling unappreciated. Your acknowledgement of this person's help is good for the helper, and spreads good will for you, the helpee.

If you feel like thanking people for their help, do it. Whether you feel it merits a small gift (as others have said), or just an email is up to you.


Say it in person. That's generally the best way to go about things like this. Or, if it's just the people in your section of the office in general, go out and pick up a dozen bagels from dunkin donuts or someplace like that, and bring them with you in the morning.

In Philadelphia, it's generally soft pretzels, but the idea is the same.

  • With cream cheese. And preferably tomorrow, thanks. I like the ones with everything on them. ;-) Aug 2 '12 at 21:27

He is two steps away but he might as well be two million miles away if he tied up on a critical task. When somebody is tied up on a critical task, the last thing you want to do is interrupt his train of thought, even to say "thank you" - I don't want to be interrupted either.

Be a pal and send him the email, so that he can read it whenever it's convenient to him i.e. uninterrupted.

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    .... why? This doesn't even attempt to give any justification for "why" you should do this.
    – enderland
    Mar 24 '14 at 15:37
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    Re-read the first sentence of my long, boring two-sentence post: "He is two steps away but he might as well be two million miles away if he is tied up on a critical task" If you still don't understand the justification, don't come back to me. Mar 24 '14 at 15:42
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    I have no idea what that means nor how it answers the "why."
    – enderland
    Mar 24 '14 at 15:43
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    When somebody is tied up on a critical task, the last thing you want to do is interrupt his train of thought, even to say "thank you" - I don't want to be interrupted either. Mar 24 '14 at 15:44

For simple tasks, a "thank you" or "thanks" after the info should be enough. To some degree this is expected of them. But if someone really goes out of his/her way to help you out and you feel you want to acknowledge that, then I would try to do a public thanks.

For example; If you have a team/department meeting, you might ask to say something and thank everyone for helping you get settled "... and especially thanks to X who took the time to help me understand system Y, without you I would have been lost. Thanks".

This way others, presumably including his boss, will hear how helpful he has been.

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