Seven surefire ways to annoy your co-workers

October 9, 2014

When you spend roughly half of your waking hours with your co-workers, the last thing you want to do is annoy them with your bad habits. Here are seven things you should definitely not do, unless you are looking to make enemies in your workplace.

  1. Leave your dishes in the sink. It doesn’t matter if the office hires a cleaning service or not; stacking up dirty dishes in the sink is unsightly and unsanitary. If you use a dish, take a minute to wash it and put it away when you are finished. Not only does this keep the sink clear of plates caked with food debris, but it helps make sure plates are available for use when needed.
  2. Leave an empty toilet paper roll unchanged. What is worse than finding out too late that there’s no more toilet paper? Almost nothing. Don’t put your co-workers through this torture and change out the empty roll if you use the last sheet. This goes for just about anything in the office, from paper towels to copier paper and printer ink.
  3. Talk on speaker phone in an open area. Noise is to be expected in any office setting. Most of the office chatter is unavoidable and healthy for collaboration and camaraderie. But there is a line you should not cross: putting a call on speaker phone. Not only is it distracting for your co-workers around you, but it probably isn’t going to be a very productive call if you have to repeat yourself to be heard over the background noise the speaker phone picks up. Whenever possible, take your calls with a headset or if you must use speaker phone, find a quieter area for your call.
  4. Stockpile for a nuclear fallout. If you’re filling the fridge with two weeks’ worth of lunches or hoarding the office snacks at your desk, please stop. There’s limited space in a refrigerator and everyone else’s lunches need to fit, too. And if the snacks are meant to be shared, only take what you will eat at that moment in time. This also goes for other office supplies, like Post-it notes, pens and notebooks. Are you really going to eat all of those Twizzlers and use all of those highlighters?
  5. Let your food fester and expire in the refrigerator. Most people have the common decency to not touch other people’s food in the communal fridge. While this is a good thing, it can also lead to food going forgotten and spoiling. To avoid this (and any associated smells and hazardous mold), keep track of what you are putting in the fridge and throw out anything you don’t want or need anymore. Don’t expect someone else to toss your three-weeks-old tuna sandwich for you.
  6. Come into the office when you’re sick. You may brush off the common cold and think it’s not a big enough illness to keep you home from work, but keep in mind how quickly germs spread in a shared space. Just like in elementary school when one person got sick, the entire class got sick, the same thing happens for adults in an office. Do yourself and your co-workers a favor by either taking a sick day to rest and recover, or work from home and keep your sickness to yourself.
  7. Invade others’ personal spaces. This should be obvious, but most people are protective of their space. Your co-workers probably would not appreciate it if you take something off their desks without asking, or rearrange their office furniture. Some people have set up their workspace in a way that makes them feel most comfortable or productive, and having someone mess up that “flow” by changing something could throw off their work balance. Respect others’ space and you’ll avoid this issue altogether.

Office etiquette goes a long way. It’s important to create a healthy, collaborative environment that fosters teamwork. Keep this in mind and make an effort to contribute positively to the office culture.

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