The Top Five Most Annoying Office Habits…and What to Do About It

Posted by Kristin Arnold on May 20, 2019

A new survey of 800 UK-based workers by online print provider Instantprint reveals how much small workplace annoyances can damage business performance.

When asked to rank office habits based on which is most annoying, the following five came out on top:

  1. Poor personal hygiene
  2. Eating smelly food in the office
  3. Taking frequent smoking breaks
  4. Constant whistling
  5. Being late

Well over half of respondents (58%) said that they’re regularly annoyed by colleagues during the workday, with only 4% saying they’ve never been annoyed by a co-worker’s actions.

These annoyances can have a tangible effect on businesses, with one in three workers saying they have a directly negative impact on their productivity.

So what can you do about these poor office habits other than hold your nose and be patient?

First of all,  I go with the assumption that the offender doesn’t know that they are offending you and everyone else in the office.  So treat the situation with care and compassion for your fellow human.  🙂

Second, think about the conversation you want to have:

  • What have you specifically observed?  What would be an acceptable solution?  When and where do you want to have this conversation?  Make sure it is in a neutral, private place (NOT your office)!

Third, have the difficult conversation:

  • Start with honesty.  I like to start with, “This is uncomfortable for me to share with you.” simply because it IS uncomfortable!  But it needs to be addressed in order to improve the team’s performance.
  • Then be clear, direct, and concrete about your expectation(s).  “I rely on people to be here on time during the workday.”
  • Provide descriptive, specific feedback using “I” statements.  For example, “I noticed that you have been at least 15 to 20 minutes late to work for the last three days.”  Try to avoid blatant generalities such as “You’re always late!”  They will always argue with you!
  • Share the impact of this behavior.  “When we wait 15 minutes for you to arrive before we start the morning meeting, that causes the rest of us to run late for the rest of the day,”  Try to separate their “intention” for being late such as “Apparently, you don’t think it’s important to be on time.”  You don’t know that, so don’t say it!
  • Own your part in it…however small.  “I should have brought this up 3 months ago, but I just kept thinking it would resolve itself.  But it hasn’t.”
  • Look for the Win-Win.  This is a bit of a brainstorming, give and take discussion. Usually, the two of you can come to some agreement that will work for both parties.  If not, I like to use this challenging question:  “What will it take for you to get to work on time each and every day?”
  • Agree on a path forward.  Agree on what the offender will do and what you will do to help and support that person.  Discuss what will happen if the offensive behavior happens again (which it will – remember, you are probably talking about a habit that will take some time to break!).
  • Finish with next steps.   Summarize the discussion and end on a happy note what you will do next and what they will do next.

You are not done yet!  Check in periodically and don’t forget to hold your part of the bargain!

Photo Source: Pixabay

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