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 that happen in a working kitchen, and included some tips on improving office kitchen etiquette.
5 things you should never do in the office kitchen…
Leave your food in the fridge for too long
The fridge is a space for everyone in the office to share, so remind employees to show some consideration and get rid of anything they 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 people are taking up when storing their lunch. One to two boxes is generally fine, but if you notice employees bringing in their weekly shop plus a few extra snacks, it’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 left out on the counter, or the sink covered in coffee granules. Worse still, finding remnants of someone’s lunch clogging up the sink is not pleasant – as is finding 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 workday, 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. 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 that 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.
Encourage all members of staff to label their food with their name and the date it was placed in the fridge, alongside reminding people that taking others food isn’t acceptable. You could even keep a label maker in the kitchen area as an extra way to help keep this rule enforced. 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 not unreasonable to expect employees to take their cups and any other crockery to the kitchen so it can be washed. The main issue here steams from people thinking it’s ok to cram their cup in the already over-filled dishwasher.
While it may sound silly, it’s worth re-educating people of what’s required. You could send reminders around encouraging people to leave their cups on the side if the dishwasher is already full, so it’s ready for the next load. The same thought process should apply to plates, bowls and cutlery – and remind people not to harbour it all on their desks.
If you work in an office without a dishwasher, put up signs telling people it’s their 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 that should be taken into account when using the shared space.