How many hours of each day, week, month and year do you spend at work? The workplace is your home away from home, which means that maintaining a happy work family is important for everyone’s sake.
Here at LifeHealthPro, we strive to make coming to work a fun experience, while also having a chocolate stash nearby in case someone gets cranky come the afternoon energy crash. And so, we have compiled a list of the worst office offenders, both from online sources and our own editorial staff, and would like to offer some tips on how to solve these tricky situations.
Don’t see some of your work pet peeves? Leave them in the comments below.
15. The kitchen slob
“Why do I have clean this when we have a cleaning crew?” I heard someone say once. Well, because there is no such a thing as a cleaning crew, period. There’s nothing worse than smelling and touching other people’s dirty dishes left for days on end in the shared kitchen sink.
How to avoid it: Don’t be a slob. If your mom didn’t tolerate dirty dishes in the sink, what makes you think that your coworkers will? Clean up after yourself. Bonus: This way, you won’t have to know what 3-day-old Hamburger Helper smells like anymore.
No one likes to be the “mom” of the office, but cleaning up after someone else is never fun. If someone else is the dirty sink offender, make sure that the rules are known. Another way that you can “catch” the offender is by having everyone put their name on their mugs, plates, etc. That way if Bernice’s mug is in the sink, we all know who is supposed to clean it.
14. Dirty keyboards
Look at your keyboard: Is there a strong chance that you might find crumbs from last year’s lunch in there? Now, think about the types of bugs that you might be attracting to your work area. Unless you’re the Snow White of the bug world, most people would really dislike having a roach community on or near their desks. And let’s not even talk about rodents …
How to avoid it: Try to be careful if you’re eating at your desk. Clean up spills and clear out crumbs as soon as they happen. That way, the dirt doesn’t have time to stick to surfaces, which later becomes a pain to remove.
If you’re the unlucky person who has to sit next to sticky-fingers’ keyboard, talk to your boss and make sure that there’s a clean desk/office area rule in place.
13. The no-hand washers / “I’ll just use hand sanitizer”
There’s a reason why many restaurants prominently display signs noting that “employees must wash hands.” Anyone in the medical profession will tell you that many diseases could be avoided by a good hand washing. This is also why preschoolers learn the “hand washing song.”
And no, hand sanitizer is not a substitute for a good ol’ hand washing. If you need more info on when to use hand sanitizer, the CDC has a very interesting article here.
How to avoid it: Since there’s actually no tips on how to avoid this, just think: How would you feel about shaking hands with someone whose hands were in … ahem … other places? Gross, right?
12. The toxic popcorn cloud
OK, so this one is not an intentional office offense. And now that microwave popcorn has been nixed by every health food blog in the world, it may just naturally disappear sometime in the very near future.
In my last job, someone set the microwave on for too long and burned the bag, almost setting fire to the kitchen and unleashing a cloud of toxic fumes in a crowded office. This person was subjected to public shaming: A mysterious sticky note appeared on the microwave that said “<Name> is banned from making popcorn ever again.” After this incident, the person in question never made popcorn again. When the sticky note disappeared a few weeks later, it reappeared on the offender’s computer monitor.
How to avoid it: If you don’t know the microwave very well or the settings are off, don’t risk it. Just buy bagged kettle popcorn from the store. If that’s not possible, don’t leave the popping bag unattended.
11. Loud ringtones and personal phone calls
It’s pretty safe to assume that your cubicle or office neighbor does not want to listen in to your private conversation (unless he’s a lurker, for more on that see point 6 here). If there’s no space to converse, you shouldn’t be calling your best friend to talk about personal things. In fact, even if you can shut your office door, you probably should not be doing this. It’s called “work” for a reason.
Now, the problem with loud cellphone ringtones is that they are distracting. While some might love hearing “Let it go” from Frozen everytime someone rings, others might find this annoying. Many others, in fact. Don’t become the next Sen. Pat Roberts at your meetings (see video above).
How to avoid it: If you have to take a personal call, go outside, find a “phone room” or take the call in your car. And silence your cell phone, or put it on vibrate. It’s as easy as that.
If another coworker is the offender, talk to your boss about instituting a “personal phone call” policy (for more info on that, see more on the SHRM’s website here.)
10. Fish and other smelly food eaters
“Workers who eat Caesar salads, that are heavy on the anchovies, at their desks,” said one of our editors when asked what their pet peeves at work were. We can name a few other smelly delinquents: fish, broccoli, anything with fresh or cooked onions, strong-smelling cheese, garlic, etc.
Then, there’s the awful tale of a boss who removed the microwave from a kitchenette area because of repeat smelly food offenders. If you don’t follow the rules, all microwave privileges might be taken away. Say hello to cold sandwiches for lunch!
How to avoid it: This one is a no-brainer: just don’t bring fish or anything with strong odors to work to reheat in the microwave. Or, at the very least, if you are reheating a smelly food, open a window, light a candle and warn the office of what you’re about to do.
9. Loud people in general
OK, so we covered this one as a bad habit in an article published a few weeks ago (which you can read here.) But we wanted to make a note of loud talkers, whistlers and people who laugh very loudly. Not all people come equipped with a “whisper” setting and not all loud people realize that they’re being loud.
How to avoid it: If you suspect that your “volume control” is broken, ask your neighbors if you’re being loud or laughing loudly and if it bothers anyone. Being mindful of when people are on the phone or having a meeting is another way to create a peaceful working space.
8. A “disaster zone” microwave
Would you like to reheat your food inside something that looks like hasn’t been cleaned since 1996? There might be radioactive waste lurking on the microwave’s walls, for all we know, and that could get into your food.
Don’t be that person who brings in lasagna and lets it splatter all over the place.
How to avoid it: Cover your food with a microwave cover or a napkin. If you don’t have these things handy, make sure that you clean up any spills.