Aside from that employee who won’t stop talking and the one who leaves their desk in a state, there are plenty of things which cause annoyance amongst office workers. But, there is one office space in particular which causes debates, irritated emails and notices posted all over – the kitchen.
With overpowering cooking smells and disturbing hygienic standards, we’ve taken a look at five of the most frustrating things which happen in a working kitchen, and included some tips on improving office kitchen etiquette.
Leave your food in the fridge for too long
Putting the food you plan to eat the same day in the fridge is fine. But leaving it there for two weeks, so it goes mouldy and lets off that sickening smell – that’s not fine.
The fridge is a space for everyone in the office to share, so show some consideration and get rid of anything you don’t plan on eating in a timely fashion. The last thing co-workers want is their fresh food sitting next to a green sandwich (or what looks to have previously been a sandwich).
It’s also worth taking into account how much space you’re taking up when storing your lunch. One to two boxes is generally fine, but if you’re bringing in your weekly shop plus a few extra snacks to get you through, you’ll likely cause some annoyance amongst colleagues.
To stop this issue in its tracks, implementing some office fridge rules is a must. Put notices around the kitchen and inform staff that anything left in the fridges on a Friday afternoon will be thrown out unless it’s clearly labelled. You could even keep some labels and a pen in the kitchen area so there are no excuses for not doing it.
2. Leave a mess behind you
Whether you’ve made your lunch, a brew or emptied out a cafetière, leaving a huge mess behind you is not acceptable. No-one wants to walk into the office kitchen to find milk splashed across the side and just left, or the sink covered in coffee granules. Worse still, leaving the remnants of your lunch clogging up the sink is not pleasant – and don’t be that employee who leaves tea bags sitting in the sink instead of the bin.
Get colleagues on the same page with some office cleanliness guidelines, so everyone knows they must pull their weight with regards to mess. Keep cleaning cloths and wipes in easy reach, and ensure there are a number of bins located next to the drinks making station.
3. Cause chaos with the microwave
When it comes to a busy work day, grabbing 20 minutes to eat some food and relax can feel like bliss. That is until you get to the microwave and find someone’s food sitting there cooling while they’re nowhere in sight. After waiting a good 10 minutes for them to return, tensions can feel high – and your 20 minutes of peace can feel like a pot about to boil over.
The same goes for those people who think it’s a great idea to nuke their food without placing a cover over it, or those employees who chose to microwave yesterday’s fish stew and leave a pungent smell which seemingly takes over the whole office – not just the kitchen.
Again, some office kitchen rules might be your best bet at stamping out these issues. Don’t discourage people from using the microwave altogether, simply enforce a respectable code of conduct for its use.
4. Taking food that isn’t yours
Yes, that bag of leftover goodies in the fridge or the slice of cake that someone has brought in may look tempting, but eating something that isn’t yours is a sure fire way to cause aggravation in the office.
We’ve all seen the viral posts of some of the notes that have resulted from food-stealing incidents, and had a laugh at them. But in real life, it’s not funny to find that someone has taken your food and enjoyed it for themselves.
If you’re the wronged party, it’s another time where labelling can come in handy. It’s not an anonymous slice of pizza, it belongs to you. This is likely to help deter hungry food foragers, and let them know that there is an owner to said food item, giving them less excuses for taking what isn’t theirs.
5. Take advantage of crockery and kitchen essentials
At the end of the working day, it’s generally expected that you take your cups and any other crockery to the kitchen so it can be washed.
But while you may feel you’re doing a good service cramming your cup in the already over-filled dishwasher, you’re not. Take a second to decide: is this full? If yes, leave your cup on the side ready to go in the next load. The same thought process should apply to plates, bowls and cutlery – just don’t be the one who harbours it all on their desk.
If you work in an office without a dishwasher, don’t just leave dishes to stack up at the side of the sink. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure the items they use are cleaned and put away. That bowl that’s been on the side with the remnants of someone’s soup for four days, is unpleasant for everyone and just plain lazy. It’s important that the onus is put back on all employees, so that they know it’s their job to keep the communal cutlery clean.
Office kitchen etiquette is an important part of working life, and something which should be taken into account when using the shared space.