Business Irish

Friday 22 August 2014

Smell of hot food is biggest office bug bear - survey

Sarah McCabe

Published 31/07/2013 | 10:59

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A businessman eats lunch at his desk
A businessman eats lunch at his desk

WE spend an awful lot of time with our co-workers so it’s no surprise that office relationships can occasionally become strained.

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But it’s not office politics that tends to get on our nerves the most – it’s eating habits.

A new study of more than 2000 Irish employees reveals the top 10 activities that are most likely to annoy co-workers. Coming in first is the smell of hot food, like curries and fish dishes, eaten in the office.

“Before you take hot food to your desk think about how the smell may affect other workers, it can linger, make the air smell stale and may even transfer to coats and garments” said Alan Price, managing director of employment law consultancy Peninsula Ireland. “It can also be messy so use break out areas or eat out of the office. Taking shoes off also seems to be high on the list of annoyances; it seems a lot of employees like to take comfort to the extreme. Such annoying habits are not to everyone’s taste so make sure that you take this into consideration.”

Annoying habits can be even more pronounced given that open plan offices are on the increase.

The common bugbear of sick employees spreading germs at work did not make the top ten – but was still a serious annoyance to those surveyed. “Whilst it may seem heroic to come into work when you are not feeling 100pc this apparently is a major workplace annoyance especially when employees pass on their colds to fellow workers - so stay at home” said Mr Price. Not pulling your weight also fell outside of the top list, but was still cited as a major problem. “All employees get paid to perform a job, work hard and do not allow others to have to pick up the slack” he added.

The spreading of gossip came into a number seven. Employers should be concerned about more than rumours when it comes to gossip – this kind of behaviour can turn into indirect bullying or harassment.

The main theme that can be gleaned from Peninsula’s research is that common courtesy saves a lot of trouble. “Annoying habits lead to bad workplace relations, and conflict in the workplace; so leave them at home” said Mr Price. “Employees are all individuals and in that respect it is only natural for each person to have their individual quirks and customs. However, when other employees begin to complain because you clip your toe nails at your desk, it is time to reel in the home comforts and act more professionally.”

Biggest office annoyances:

- The smell of hot food causes offence; i.e. curries & fish dishes.

- Taking your shoes off at your desk.

- When colleagues take your possessions without asking; i.e. mugs and stationery goods.

- Personal hygiene – not washing hands in the toilets, clipping toe nails or picking noses at desks.

- Leaving the kitchen facilities in a messy state.

- When workers bring crying babies into the office.

- The quick-fire spread of idle office gossip.

- Use of unnecessary vulgar language.

- Co-workers skiving and not putting the required effort in.

- Sending unnecessary emails to colleagues.

 

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