Should Office Hugging be Verboten?

February 11, 2011 ( – The Ari Gold character on the HBO series Entourage may be fond of greeting office visitors with a manly bear hug, but a new survey finds that behavior isn’t widely endorsed by ad and marketing executives.

The office hugging poll, sponsored by the Menlo Park, California-based The Creative Group, an advertising and marketing staffing service, found seven in 10 executives believed embracing coworkers in a business setting is inappropriate; 76% said they rarely, if ever, hug clients or business contacts. Some 30% deemed the whole hugging thing somewhat common in the U.S. and 24% said it’s not unheard of to greet clients that way.

The survey found 57% who would rarely hug a co-worker; 61% had the same response when greeting a client or business contact. Some 23% said it was OK if you knew the person well and hadn’t seen him or her for a while (regarding a co-worker) while 21% gave the same response for a client or business contact. Thirteen percent said it’s never appropriate to hug a co-worker in a business setting while 15% said the same about a client or a business contact.

“When it comes to business greetings, it’s important to read your audience and the environment well,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “It’s always best to err on the formal side to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.”

The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews — approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.