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Dwight K. Schrute’s Top 10 Tips for Work Ethic (and World Domination)

“How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jackhammer…merciless…insatiable…” –Dwight K. Schrute

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that The Office’s Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson) is a big time workaholic. He’d stay late to finish invoicing, drive to a different state to turn in last-minute paperwork, or forgo bathroom breaks to maximize his productivity while on the clock. At least, he would have in the days of Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin management (I’m not so sure he’d replicate that enthusiasm for the newest manager, Andy Bernard). At any rate, we have a lot to learn from one of the most popular characters on one of the best TV shows of all time!

So what can we learn about work ethic from Dwight Kurt Schrute?

Dwight Tip #1: Put in the time.Put in the time. Dwight is rarely late, and he shows up ready to start working. He’s not opposed to working longer hours if his position calls for it, even if that means reallocating his time between Dunder Mifflin and Schrute Farms to make it work.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Don’t put in copious amounts of time that affect your life outside of work. It’s all about balance and knowing your limits.

Dwight Tip #2: Support your boss.Support your boss. When Michael Scott managed the Scranton branch, Dwight didn’t think twice about sticking by his leader. He followed protocol and made it clear to Michael that he was a good “number two,” also known as the Assistant (to the) Regional Manager.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Use caution when supporting decisions you oppose. Listen to what your boss says, but don’t blindly follow orders if morality comes into question. Use your best judgment!

Dwight Tip #3: Love your company.Love your company. Dwight cares about Dunder Mifflin; he’s intensely loyal and he would do almost anything to better it. His enthusiasm particularly shows through when he purchases the office building in one of the later seasons and spends time fixing it up.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: There’s a big difference between loving your company and letting it rule your life. Take a breather once in a while and enjoy yourself, otherwise you’ll burn out.

Dwight Tip #4: Be passionate about your product.Be passionate about your product. There’s a reason Dwight was voted the top paper salesman on several occasions – he stands behind his company’s products and sells the crap out of anything. When Sabre bought Dunder Mifflin (6th season) and introduced printers into the inventory, he found a way to show the value to his customers.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Don’t sell a product you don’t fully believe in. It’s all or nothing on this one, because fake enthusiasm is obvious to others.

Dwight Tip #5: Keep your space tidy for maximum productivity.Keep your space tidy for maximum productivity. Dwight hates clutter and isn’t shy about pushing his deskmate’s (Jim) spillover back where it belongs. He’s always organized, from his desk drawers to his perfectly-lined-up bobbleheads.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Sometimes, clutter stacks up and you can’t get to it right away. Learn to harness productivity whether or not everything’s in mint condition.

Dwight Tip #6: Act quickly.Act quickly. When Roy tried to attack Jim (3rd season), Dwight was the first to act. When there was a threat of drugs in the office, he shot into action to find the culprit. No one could ever accuse him of twiddling his thumbs when there’s work to be done!

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Keep genuine issues separated from pointless distractions – not every office crisis is worthy of dedicating an entire day to.

Dwight Tip #7: Engage in friendly competition.Engage in friendly competition. Competition makes any sales person stronger as long as it’s in good fun, and Dwight Schrute seems to have a blast doing it. And let’s not forget that he once competed against the Dunder Mifflin website for customer sales – and won.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Competitiveness is dangerous when taken to the extreme (and/or if it’s not work related like his ongoing banter with Jim). Keep rivalries to a minimum by respecting your team during contests.

Dwight Tip #8: Know co-workers' strengths and weaknesses.Know co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses. Dwight understands which team members get the job done and which ones flit away the time, and he chooses his team carefully when he has the chance to delegate.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: It’s a positive to know your team’s pros and cons, but it’s a negative to exploit them by calling them out in front of a large crowd. Everyone is good at something, so find each person’s strong point and you’ll spell success.

Dwight Tip #9: Get your hands dirty.Get your hands dirty. Since he runs a beet farm in his “spare time,” it’s only natural that he would excel at dirty jobs that others pass on. Michael Scott knew that Dwight would take care of those odd jobs that needed doing, like digging in to select a new health insurance plan (season 2) or cracking down harder on office policies.

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Dwight is typically willing to jump into any project head first, especially ones that would give him power around the office. This demonstrates responsibility and willingness, but it can also put you at risk with corporate AND portray you as a doormat. Avoid becoming a yes man (or woman) by thinking ahead and by respectfully declining projects you’re not qualified to do.

Dwight Tip #10: Be confident and never, EVER, give up.Be confident and never, EVER, give up. Dwight oozes confidence when he speaks to clients and other employees. He knows he’s hard working and capable, and why shouldn’t he show it? Confidence is a big part of a job, especially in sales, because it tends to drive results. Also, it’s nearly impossible to sway him from an idea or task if he sets his mind on it. Dwight never gives up!

What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Being confident is one thing, but being overly so is quite another. Keep your confidence grounded or others may view it as boastful, obnoxious, and rude! And as far as the giving up goes…Dwight’s always been a poster boy for persistence, and he does it well. Follow his lead and you’ll succeed.

Dwight has his quirks, sure. But he’s also a loyal employee with the drive of a monster truck and the sheer focus of an owl who’s just spotted his prey. I’d say we could all learn a thing or two from this loveable-yet-frustrating paper salesman, and any employer would benefit from hiring outstanding employees like him (only if you’re willing to put in the time to train them correctly).

Who knows — if you work extra hard, you may even have a bobblehead version of yourself on your desk someday:

Oh, and one more thing: Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

What do you think of Dwight’s determination? Do you agree that his work ethic is generally admirable, even if his office antics otherwise aren’t? Do you love “The Office”? Want to see some “best of Dwight” moments and reminisce? Anything else to add?

Image credit to gordasm and Jill Tooley.


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  1. Juliette

    Oh, Jill…the moment I started reading I was hoping that “Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.” would come into play somewhere and you didn’t disappoint. 🙂 Love this post!

    For all that I get fed up with Dwight sometimes you’ve pointed out many of the reasons he’s still a great employee. One of my favorite moments is when he and Jim are out on a sales call and Dwight uses the client’s phone to call their competitor’s customer service line and simply leaves it on speakerphone as the hold music plays during the meeting. Without missing a beat, Jim whips out his phone and calls Dunder Mifflin and Kelli answers right away. Though they have a serious rivalry between them, even Dwight knows when it’s important to work as a team. 🙂

    On a side note, pinned on the wall in front of my desk is a picture of Dwight with his stapler in green jello…which may have led to my Boba Fett action figure disappearing from my desk one night and reappearing the next morning in the office fridge…in a bowl of green jello. (True story. I have the photos)

    • Jill Tooley

      I wouldn’t let you down, Juliette! 😉 Thanks so much for the feedback.

      I completely agree! There are times when Dwight gets on my nerves, but more often than not he displays leadership qualities around the office. Even if he doesn’t execute his ideas properly, he still tries to do what’s best for Dunder Mifflin (or, at least, he tries to do what HE thinks is best for DM). And as hilarious as the Dwight/Jim antics are, I really enjoy the episodes where they interact as FRIENDS. Remember the episode where Dwight was crying/moaning in the stairwell after he saw Angela with someone else and knew he’d lost her? Jim was right there to lend a hand, even though they weren’t on friendly terms before that. And this most recent episode was much the same way — Jim was more than willing to help Dwight with the Sabre presentation because he knew it meant so much to him. See, Mr. Schrute is more human that he’d lead us to believe!

      I think I saw those Boba Fett pictures — too funny! 🙂

      • Juliette

        That is one of my other favorite moments!

        Another great Dwight moment is when he makes Pam his “secret” assistant. I love that whole sequence! And alternately when he tries to comfort her, even if he’s mistaken about the cause. The best part is how Pam and Jim in turn do similar kind things for Dwight, such as staying at his farm and giving him a great review on TripAdvisor.

        And though he does go overboard sometimes (remember the Flasher episode and Dwight’s new rules for the women?) he really does have great qualities. Maybe a combination of Jim and Dwight would be perfect…which might explain why they do work well as a sales team.

  2. Amy Swanson

    This post is amazing, Jill! I’m such a fan of the ‘The Office’ that I’m a bit intimidated to write a blog about it, but you hit this one out of the park! You nailed Dwight’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly.

    I do think his work ethic is impressive, despite his (many) quirks he’s loyal and determined to make the company a success. He’s a firm believer in, “it’s not personal, it’s business” which has gotten him into trouble a few times 😉 That’s one thing I wish I could master.

    Amazing post, Jill! Well done!

    • Jill Tooley

      Aw! Thanks Amy! You’re absolutely right about Dwight being more about business than personal — in the days of Michael Scott, he’d have given his right arm for a chance at a management position. Part of me feels like he deserves it, too, if he could only learn to be more empathetic and less of a tyrant! 🙂

  3. Barb Miller

    Jill, love this article! I am always looking at articles about work ethic, productivity, etc. But you write with such a humorous edge I almost forget I am learning something!

    • Jill Tooley

      Thank you, Barb! That means a lot to me. I’m thrilled that you get something out of my articles! 😀

      • Jaimie Smith

        I agree with Barb! Your posts are always so awesome!! you really do almost forget that your learning something, because they are just really enjoyable. Everyone here writes great ones.
        I really do not watch the show that often. I’ve seen a few episodes here and there, but after working here I think I need to start watching it, lol! 🙂

  4. Cybernetic SAM

    “Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.” Yesss! This was so awesome! I completely agree, if you want to model yourself after someone surely Dwight is the one. If you don’t well that’s your own problem. IDIOT!

    • Jill Tooley

      I couldn’t resist using that quote, even though Jim said it and not Dwight. That’s one of the funniest episodes! I had a blast doing research for this post…it was challenging to remember which seasons some of these Dwight moments happened, though. After reading some awesome Dwight quotes, I realized how much I want to go back and re-watch seasons 1 through 6!

  5. Jenna Markowski

    Excellent post, Jill! I love ‘The Office’ and Dwight so much. Even though he’s a little bonkers (okay, a lot bonkers), there’s no doubt that he is devoted to Dunder Mifflin. The episode where they get scolded for wasting company time, and then Jim times all of Dwight’s activities for the day is hilarious! Dwight’s commitment to the company really shines as he avoids even going to the bathroom so that he doesn’t waste a second of time.

    Even though Dwight and Jim do waste a lot of time constantly challenging and mocking one another, they make a great team when the pressure’s on. Dwight would be a great asset to any company, so long as the other employee’s could deal with his…”quirkiness.”

    • Jill Tooley

      Haha, yes! I love that episode as well. I also love the one where Michael, Jim, and Dwight head to a different branch to play a prank, and he pulls out that bottle to do his business in while they’re all in the car. I think I laughed for 10 minutes at the expression on Jim’s face! So many good quotes…

      There’s nothing wrong with being quirky, but sometimes Dwight takes it overboard. If he could learn to harness that frustration instead of acting on it all the time, then I think he’d be much better off! 🙂

  6. Alex Brodsky

    Great post, Jill! Dwight is an amazing character and as much as I hate spin-offs, I can’t wait to see his!

    But you forgot the ultimate key to being successful in the workplace: MEGADESK!

  7. Mandy Kilinskis

    **HEY THIS COMMENT IS GOING TO HAVE SPOILERS FROM LAST WEEK’S EPISODE.** Please read at your own discretion.

    Great post, Jill! Any time that we can include The Office in our blog is a good time.

    Dwight showed a great work ethic and phenomenal leadership when he opened up the Sabre retail store. He had all of his bases covered: generate hype via trends, keep tech bloggers happy, and put on a dynamic presentation. Even when everything was falling down around his ears (or even when he needed to go to the hospital), he continued to push on to see the success of the store. He even managed to talk his long-time frenemy Jim (known for indifference and laziness) into putting on a ridiculous-yet-awesome presentation that Ryan bailed on. Lesser employees would’ve folded at the challenge, but Dwight took it head-on and barreled through.

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks, Mandy! You’re so right on that. Dwight is a complete jerk sometimes, but I can’t help but think that most of it is a facade to protect his “reputation.” I’m so glad that Jim tackled Dwight to keep him from entering the firing room — I’d be lying if I said Packer will be missed…

  8. Jen

    3 words: I. Love. Dwight.

    In all seriousness though I would love to have Dwight on my sales team, he has a great work ethic and a passionate drive to succeed. Nice post Jill, you highlighted all of Dwight’s strengths and weaknesses superbly!

  9. Rachel

    Awesome post, Jill! As you’ve made clear, Dwight can go wildly overboard in many respects, but the writers have also shown many times that he’s genuinely a good salesman. They did that with Michael Scott’s character, too — most of the time he was way over the top, but he had his shining moments of being a good salesman and a good manager.

    Your point about Dwight liking competition makes me think of the recent episodes in Tallahassee, in which he suffered through an appendicitis attack because he wanted to beat Todd Packer and therefore refused for a long time to go to the hospital. Probably not a good idea in real life to NOT go to the hospital … but the situation definitely showed Dwight’s dedication! And I guessed so far it’s worked out for him. 🙂

    • Jill Tooley

      Yep, Michael was a lot like Dwight in that respect. Their biggest difference? Michael was obsessed with getting everyone to like him, and Dwight doesn’t seem to bother with such trivial things. A mixture of the two would make a pretty good manager!

      The new episodes have been hilarious! I was getting worried there for a while, but they’ve snapped back these past few episodes. The appendicitis attack made me think of an earlier episode when Dwight got a concussion going to help Michael when he “grilled his foot.” The interaction between Dwight and Pam is priceless in that one!

  10. Eric

    Had a whole comment all written-out and ready to go, and Chrome decided I needed to write another one. Alright, so….take two: Great post, Jill, and I can relate when it comes to keeping one’s workspace nice and tidy. As much as I love America, and any and all America-themed stress balls, I find it much easier to get things done with them up on the shelf.

    It also means never again having to correct the upside-down and/or backwards state of New York after the cleaning crew comes through on the weekends. Bonus.

    • Jill Tooley

      Haha, thanks Eric! Sorry that WordPress ate your comment. I really must try to feed it a more balanced diet (usually consisting of the usual: blood, sweat, and tears). 😉

  11. Jeff Porretto

    Dwight is always on time! Unless he thinks Thursday is Friday 😉

    I’d say I hit on 7-8 of these. But I’m not telling which ones!! Mwahahaha (Dr. Evil Pink Gesture)! They are all great advice though!

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks, Jeff! I may be able to guess which ones…haha!

      P.S. Love that episode!

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