How to overcome Britain’s top 6 irritating office gripes

28 July 2015. Feature.

You’ve got to love Brits for their good old fashioned, overly polite way of dealing with things in today’s society.

You may not experience it so much on the underground (and I think commuters would agree), but in the workplace even with the list of gripes that bother us on a daily basis, we struggle to tackle the problem head on, and instead try to smile (survive) through it.

So what are the top 6 irritating office gripes that go way beyond all others, and what is the best way to deal with them?

We have highlighted some of the most common office gripes that we’ve come across; from noisy eaters to messy co-workers, and suggested a number of effective solutions to help create a better gripe-less working environment.

1. Eating habits

According to a UK poll surveying 2,500 office workers, over half (57%) of UK employees are irritated by co-workers who are noisy when they eat. This is usually whilst workers are sat at their desk, dropping crumbs into their keyboard. But it’s more than noise and crumbs, over 25% of workers also claim that food odors distract them from getting on with their work.

By providing your staff with a fully-fitted office kitchen with a separate eating area, this issue could be resolved for many businesses. Even offices without ‘adequate space’, there is always opportunity to reassess how your current office space is configured and assess which areas could be freed up. This would allow for those break out spaces where staff can prepare fresh, healthy lunches and eat away from their desk – chatting to colleagues and enjoying a time-out.

2. Away with the fairies, or waiting for the fairies…

Some people seem to believe in cleaning fairies who magically appear. They fly in at night, remove plates and mugs from desks, wipes away crumbs and out of pure kindness tidy everything away into the bin or dishwasher. As grown-ups we need to accept that these fairies do not exist and one needs to sort out their own stuff!

Try appointing an office guard to ‘monitor’ the culprit of who leaves the mess, catch them red handed and pass on a quiet word. People tend to follow mess, so if you find the one who starts it, it’s more likely the others will soon follow suit. The classic office memo is also a handy trick, reminding everyone that a dishwasher does exist; if doesn’t, it might be time to get one.

3. I’ll just file this over here

Another infuriating gripe amongst office workers is badly organised filing systems. This can be on electronic servers and within the office, as colleagues tend to file (or dump) key files and items simply because no-one knows where things are actually meant to be stored. People waste their time trying to find things, and companies do notice a drop in productivity when this happens.

Simply re-thinking office storage solutions can make a significant difference to the organisation or layout of an office, pre-empting and avoiding the build-up of mess and wasted time. Having a shredder is also useful as for some reason people still do get a buzz from shredding their unwanted paper pile.

4. Hot desk, or not a hot desk?

Many companies are now embracing agile working conditions in order to make the most efficient use of their costly office space. Staff who are in meetings, or out and about most of the day do not need a permanent desk and likely can make do with a locker and hot desk.

So, when is a hot desk not a hot desk? Naturally we know what we like, and we like what we know. We are creatures of habit and like the familiar. The office worker who always sits at ‘that’ desk is an enemy to the hot desk mantra. Slowly but surely they’ll leave out a few folders. Maybe leave their favourite mug there. Or if they want to really stake their claim to the hot desk, then the full suite of family photos in shaggy chic frames will appear, as will a few hard drawn art projects stuck to the divider screens.

Implementing a company ‘clear desk policy’ at the end of the day is a good start to help deter people from getting too comfy at hot desk points. If it’s isn’t cleared away, into the storage cupboard it goes.

5. Meeting room etiquette

Staff who have a tendency to turn up late for meetings and waste the time of others without apology or care. They rush in, a cup of coffee in one hand and settle down only to ask for a recap of what they’ve missed. Around 75% of UK employees are irritated by others who always appear late for meetings.

As part of good meeting room etiquette, room-booking systems are the way to go, those that include 15 minute reminders, which room, who’s attending etc. so there is absolutely no more room for lateness or excuses!

6. The tea run

Deciding ‘whose turn is it for the tea and coffee run’ can be a tricky one, and most will attempt to avoid it if they can. If there were a simpler system to produce 10 cups of beverages without running a marathon or delivering the first one cold then you may find more will step in for the role. So what can you do to encourage this act of kindness towards fellow staff?

One way is to install one of those trendy cold and instant boiling water taps in the kitchen. And if you want to get really fancy you could also install technology which allows people to order their drinks direct from their iPad or iPhone directly the tap! Coffee for the digital age….

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