Office Kitchen Etiquette

Platonic ideal of an office fridge at the end of the day. [Via Wikimedia Commons]

Platonic ideal of an office fridge at the end of the day. [Via Wikimedia Commons]

The office kitchen is often the cause of the greatest strain among coworkers. People steal other peoples food, people don’t wash dishes, the refrigerator is disgusting, and everyone gets fed up. Some simple rules will make everyone much happier:

  • Use the fridge for only the food you will eat that day. Bring your lunch, put it in the fridge, eat it, and bring everything home at the end of the day. Repeat. If you aren’t using the fridge for long term storage, food doesn’t have a chance to rot and make things disgusting. Besides, depending on how many people are using that fridge, there probably isn’t enough room for everyone to store a ton of stuff, so don’t take more than your fair share of space!
  • Label your stuff. It might not prevent people from stealing if they were going to, but it will avoid accidental stealing! Plus, then your office manager will know who to come after when your labelled tupperware starts growing mold.
  • Practice good microwave etiquette. Use a cover so your food doesn’t splatter in the microwave. If it does splatter, wipe it up. Don’t leave your lunch sitting in the microwave when other people are waiting to use it. Avoid heating up extremely smelly food. Avoid burning popcorn. Some of the more uptight among us might add to clear the timer if you leave time on it (but this is asking a lot, I know.)
  • Clean up after yourself. When you finish preparing your food or eating if you eat in the kitchen too, make sure you clean up all wrappers, napkins etc. If you used any dishes, put them in the dishwasher (if you are lucky!) or hand wash them and put them away. Wipe up any crumbs. Unless you work at a very chi-chi office where there is someone whose actual job it is to clean up after everyone, then you MUST clean up after yourself!
  • Be considerate with office snacks. If you are truly lucky, maybe your office provides snacks for you. If so, don’t hog things (like taking 5 granola bars are once or something). Don’t take stuff and bring it home. Throw out empty containers (also don’t leave two chips in a bag and think that you don’t have to throw it out because it isn’t empty.) Clean up spills and crumbs.
  • Refill the coffee pot. If it is empty, make a new pot! If you have a pod machine, empty the pod catcher if it is full! If you have some sort of coffee buying club, follow the rules and contribute your fair share. If you aren’t in the club, don’t drink their coffee.
  • Communicate. If the fridge is running out of milk, sugar, paper towels, or whatever, let the person who refills them know! On the flip side, don’t leave passive aggressive notes about kitchen problems, bring them up to everyone at an appropriate time, such as a staff meeting.

2 thoughts on “Office Kitchen Etiquette

  1. Oh lord. It seems simple, doesn’t it? But kitchen cleanliness is a VERY sensitive subject for some.
    Once, I was down in the breakroom microwaving my lunch, chitchatting with Colleague A. Colleague B walked in, put a bowl in the sink, and started to walk out.
    A thought perhaps she was standing too close to the sink, and said, “Sorry, B! I’ll get out of the way so you can wash.”
    B said, “That’s okay,” and went to leave again.
    A said, “Why don’t you just wash it now? Then you won’t have to deal with the pile at the end of the day.” There was always a pile in the sink at the end of the day. Often it had a smell.
    B said, stiffly, “No.” And walked out.

    And this doesn’t even touch on the etiquette of not taking other people’s things, which was kind of a problem in that office.

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