There comes the time in every office worker’s life when you slowly but surely transition from a happy-go-lucky employee, skipping into the office every day, into a bitter, twisted, angry typist -- wizened from the hatred you harbor for your colleagues or working environment.
JOKE! Well, sort of not a joke. I’m sure you’ve all worked somewhere where the behavior of your desk-mate, the office politics or the erratic air-conditioning system has the power to make you go completely Falling Down (in your head, at least). There always seems to be one person who is intent on pushing you over the edge into D-Fens territory -- and despite your best efforts, the smallest thing that they do can evoke a tirade of sheer, unadulterated RAGE. If there isn’t anyone in your office that does that, then count your blessings. You’re one of the lucky ones.
I read this week a survey of 2,000 British office workers that told what annoys us most in the workplace. Of course, this is only representative of us Brits, but I’m sure a lot of the concerns of those surveyed apply to those dotted around our lovely planet, too. Not sure whether any other territory would be as arsed if someone shirks a tea-round as we do here, but we’ll see in the comments section, I’m sure.
The fifty things that we most hate in the workplace are:
- Being copied in to emails that aren't relevant to you
- The phone ringing at one minute to 5pm
- Computer crashing
- Air con making the office too cold
- The printer breaking down
- Colleagues that smell of BO
- Loud telephone voices
- People chatting too much
- People not cleaning the microwave after use
- People sniffing
- People reading emails over your shoulder
- Running out of toilet roll and not replacing it
- Colleagues not saying thanks when you hold the door open for them
- People with bad breath
- Anyone that says "blue sky thinking"
- Inconsiderate parking
- Co-workers' smelly lunches
- Uncomfortable chair
- Those that book school holidays off really far in advance
- Your boss catching you on Facebook for one minute when you have been manic all day
- Your company blocking you from certain websites
- People in the car park blocking you in
- The company providing cheap teabags
- Colleagues moaning about personal life
- Co-workers who constantly boast about their children
- Diet bores who constantly talk about their food
- Colleagues that are younger than you telling you what to do
- People pinching your lunch out of the fridge
- Those that leave empty wrappers in the tin of sweets
- Incessant birthday cake and sweet treats
-- SORRY -- can we just hold on a second? WHO hates birthday cake? Who are you? Do you also hate love? Hate sunshine? Kick puppies? What is wrong with you people? --
- The vending machine stealing your money
- Colleagues not making tea
- Colleagues using work phones to row with their partner
- Someone using your mug
- No one refilling the stapler
- Co-workers who constantly text at their desk
- Queuing for the microwave
- Co-workers who leave at 5 on the dot
- Colleagues leaving the toilet seat up
- The lift breaking down
- Not enough plug sockets
- Fire alarm going off when you're on the phone
- Colleagues describing their dreams in exact detail when they come in
- Colleagues singing
- People who chew pens
- Having to stretch over desks to answer a colleague's phone
- Clients turning up early for meetings
- People not chatting enough
- People forever stealing your favorite pen
- The water cooler being too far away
OK. Quite a list. I have to throw my hands up in the air in manner of Candi Staton at some of these, though. I chew my pens. I have a tin full of sweets on my desk, and I often leave the wrappers building and building until I could make a tiny teepee community for ants. I talk ALL THE TIME. Especially after a couple of coffees. I am really bloody annoying. I moan about it being too hot, and then too cold on a daily basis. I talk about food at least twice an hour.
That aside, I generally think I’m quite a pleasant person to be around in the office -- I mean, I only started at my new job a few weeks ago, so at the moment I really like everyone but they could be finding me completely insufferable. TIME WILL TELL.
So what do I hate?
Well, as I said, I’m new here. I haven’t really had enough time to create a list of gripes. Plus, I’m lucky -- ’s pretty cool here. Plus, there's an office dog! What's not to love? That’s not always been the case though -- I’ve worked with some right rotters in my time.
I’m going to tell you a little story now, one that I really wanted to tell you at the time but I couldn’t because of, you know, legality and all that bullshit. I had the pleasure of working with someone who I am STILL sure has definitely killed before. For real. You know when you just know? OK, I might be exaggerating A BIT. But not a lot.
So, this guy came to work with us in a past company and it was pretty clear from the off that he was "strange." I’ll call him Old Matey. He would just grunt at my boss and I, slam his fists into his keyboard on the reg, ignore everyone (including, but not limited to, the Managing Director UNLESS they were doing a tea-round -- which of course he would always respond to), would look at me with sheer unbridled hatred and generally was completely unpleasant to be around. He also used to roll in around midday and often just didn’t turn up at all without explanation, but that seemed to be the least of our worries.
It got to the point where Old Matey’s very presence would bring on the red mist, and I’d sit at my desk, desperately job searching and typing so hard and with such rage that my fingers were basically aflame. I’d shoot evils his way every time he sniffed (all the time), left his snotty tissues on the floor (all the time), SCRATCHED HIS SKIN INCESSANTLY (it was like Chinese water torture), ate two bags of salt and vinegar crisps at 9am stinking out the tiny little office we shared, and generally breathed. It was categorically Not Good for the old blood pressure, let me tell you.
Anyhow, we all thought he was a murderer etcetera etcetera. REALLY PLEASANT WORKING ENVIRONMENT, GUYS.
One Friday when I was on holiday, he left the office at 5pm, which was odd for him as he often left later -- doing what, we’ll never know -- and shot out the door without saying goodbye, which was standard behavior. My boss came into the office, as she’d been working elsewhere, and was immediately hit by a wall of unholy stench. She described it as a rotten, seaside smell, catching in her throat. She called a colleague in, who also nearly threw up, and together they searched for what the smell was coming from.
After sniffing around, they realized the smell was coming from underneath Old Matey’s desk. He liked to store things under his desk, much to my annoyance (even though I had about 15 shoeboxes and a lone sock under mine, but WHATEVER, this is MY story) and usually had around 20-30 paper lunch bags, a couple of rolls of Christmas wrapping paper (despite it being spring) and some indeterminate condiments alongside those aforementioned snotty tissues.
The smell got stronger as they gingerly nudged a few bags out of the way until they found a blue plastic bag. They hooked it out from under the desk -- the smell overpowering them -- and flung it out of the room, before creeping over to check what was inside.
OH, NOTHING TO SEE HERE, PEOPLE. Just a bag of between 30-50 DEAD, ROTTING SNAILS.
After nearly throwing up all over the office, they double bagged them and disposed of them, because y’know, health and safety. An email was sent so he'd see it when he returned on the Monday morning:
“Hi Old Matey,
Hope you had a good weekend.
In case you are wondering where they are, I thought I'd let you know that I removed the bag of dead snails from under your desk as they were a health and safety risk.
The best part of it all was that he came in on Monday, read the email, and never said a word. Never replied, never acknowledged it. Nothing. Cool as a cucumber. Just carried on whacking his keyboard and muttering expletives as per usual.
He did eventually get sacked, and then KEPT COMING BACK LIKE NOTHING HAD HAPPENED, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Oh, and he NEVER MADE A CUP OF TEA FOR ANYONE IN SIX MONTHS. That might be the worst bit, actually.
So, office workers around the globe, what’s your biggest annoyance when it comes to working with others? Do tea-round-shirkers make you want to go postal? Or maybe you’re really annoying? Do you store rotting snails under your desk? Comment away!
Natalie’s on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.