I'm working in an English big company in Germany. Everybody speak English but most of us as second, or third language. One thing I noticed is that we are all "guys" in the office:

"Ask the guy up there." "Call the guys of help desk." "Guys, we need to manage this now." "Who is the guy who said that?" "We need to tell this to all the other guys."

Apart from some managers that says "Gentlemen" everybody else use only "guy".

I'm wondering if is this normal also in natively English speaking workplaces or instead there are better and different terms that could be used in such situations.

  • I don't want to put this in as an answer, as it adds little that hasn't been said in the answers. "Guy" is increasingly common in the workplace in the UK. So much so that it is in the process of losing its gender association. Very occasionally this may surprise or offend someone though, so be a little careful using it.
    – qubyte
    Dec 7 '11 at 16:57
  • Perhaps you would prefer Ladies, like in the US armed forces. What the heck is wrong with guy?
    – Lambie
    Jan 1 '20 at 19:57

the people is commonly used in our workplace.

Call up the people in [department name].

Someone is also used

Can you get someone in accounting to take a look at this?

Or, it's just omitted if it's a whole team:

Can you get Finance in here right now?

EDIT: I should add that if a team is all young men, sometimes the term boys is used, though this is usually used within a team and is much more casual.

E.g. The IT(sub-dept.) Manager might say to others in the IS(main dept.) team: "The boys are out fixing a problem, they'll join us shortly"


It is very normal in English speaking workplaces. I think for day to day interactions with coworkers "guy" is appropriate, but in a more formal setting something like someone, person/people, or gentleman/men (when applicable) might be better. And as Rhodri said, there is then the issue of women being "guys." I worked with an organization that had a strict policy against using the term "guys" in order to be gender sensitive. I didn't realize how often I used the word until my work with them!

  • 1
    The other women I work with don't seem to object to being lumped in with "guys" (and neither do I), but high-tech companies might be different than others. Dec 7 '11 at 16:56

It is very commonly seen that people use "guy" or "guys" in workplace. It is totally appropriate to use this word when it is a casual occasion. If the occasion is more formal, for example you are referring a very senior member, an old and respectful man or a professional such as police officer, the appropriate alternatives could be "gentleman", "sir", "officer" or just "man" or "woman/lady".

If the situation is even more casual than the situation where you use "guy", possible alternatives (but less safe in a multi-culture environment than "guy") could be "dude", "pal", "folk" etc.

If you are referring a girl or a group of girls (no male at all), the equivalent word of "guy" or "guys" should be "gal" or "gals".

  • 3
    I wouldn't use "gals" to refer to a group of female coworkers. I'd use a gender-neutral term like "folks" or "people", or I'd use "guys" because it's functionally gender-neutral in the contexts I'm familiar with (YMMV). "Gals", especially said by a man, can come across wrong because of historical usage (e.g. "the gals in the secretarial pool" who are of lower status). Dec 7 '11 at 17:00

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