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
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 16:57
  • Dup: english.stackexchange.com/questions/19074/… Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 22:18
  • Perhaps you would prefer Ladies, like in the US armed forces. What the heck is wrong with guy?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 19:57

5 Answers 5


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. Commented Dec 7, 2011 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".

  • 4
    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). Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 17:00
  • If it must be gendered I think most people would sooner go for "lady" than "gal."
    – Casey
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 6:11
  • I, as a British male well past retirement age, would be very careful about using the term 'girls', let alone 'gals' when referring to the members of an all-female group although using "lads" or even "boys" for a group of men even including some or all of my own age seems reasonable. I do sometimes use "guys" informally for mixed gender groups and it does not seem to cause offence. Addressing a group of women I may call them "ladies" but certainly not "girls". A women addressing a group of other women might say things like "Right girls, lets get on" but then she includes herself in the group.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 8:31

I agree with OneProton's answer in that I often hear "people" being tossed around when talking about a whole department, but I hear "guys" a lot, too. I often refer to my girl friends as "guys," but I'm not sure if that's right to say in a formal setting. Maybe it's just to refer to a mix of men and women.

"Dude" and "guy" get mixed up sometimes, but "dude" seems to almost exclusively denote men or describe a woman who looks or acts masculine. Meanwhile, "guy" is more often used in a gender-neutral way. Once I was writing something in the first-person and wrote "That's what I'd do if I were any other guy," and paused for a moment. I'm a woman, and I don't think I've ever been called a guy by anyone except myself. Maybe it's just in my small circle.

However, "girls," like what nine-lives said in her answer, should never be said unless you're addressing children or unless you want to come off as rude.


Female here in the US. Please never use girl or gal in a professional context. To be safe don't use lady or ladies either. I looked up whether 'guy' was considered gender neutral about a year ago because I don't like being called a 'guy'. At the time it was considered neutral and it's so pervasive that fighting its use would be impossible. I'm looking it up again because my boss, an engineer with some social shortcomings, called the women on my team 'girls' last week. He seemed to instantly realize how offensive that sounded and changed to 'ladies' ... A term I found surprisingly offensive but maybe it was because of the 'girls' reference. When I look up use of lady in a corporate setting it is rather inappropriate but not as bad a girls. Consider one of the worst things you can call a man is 'girl'

The neutral alternatives offered are you all, y'all, team, folks...

  • 1
    I don't think "y'all," "team," or "folks" is a substitute in a sentence like "ask the guy over there." There is no one substitute for "guy/guys" that will work in all of the OP's examples; you would need a few different neutral terms.
    – Casey
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 6:13
  • Reading the question, I'm not entirely sure if there are women in their group at all. Even for nonnative speakers, it would be bizarre to use "gentlemen" for a mixed group. (Though I do get where you're coming from — I've heard "guys, yes, and gal" or "gentlemen... oh and lady" far too many times).
    – Laurel
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 12:59

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