office kitchen etiquetteWork Life 

Office Kitchen Etiquette You Need to Know

Do you spend a lot of time in the office kitchen where you work?

This is the place to eat your lunch, take a break from the daily grind, and grab a cup of coffee before the day starts. It’s likely that there are already unwritten rules in your office kitchen.

If there isn’t, you’ve found the right list.

Many bosses will tell you, “Make yourself at home” when it comes to the break room. Let’s be honest though–it isn’t your home. And you should always take your work family into consideration by using proper office kitchen etiquette.

Have you ever wondered who keeps the kitchen clean? Or if it’s not clean, why it isn’t?

Keep the peace by learning and sharing these break room rules. Read on!

Caffeine Rules

When going into the break room after a few grueling hours of work, you may be looking forward to a cup of hot coffee. Then you walk in and realize the coffee pot is completely empty.

Worse yet, you look in there and see the remnants of a pot boiling into sticky slime. Prety annoying, right? Well, someone drank the rest and tried to get out of making a new pot by leaving a few drops on the bottom.

Basically, if you empty the coffee pot, you should be the one to refill it. No matter if you take the last cup or leave a teaspoon, this is now your responsibility.

Hopefully, your co-workers follow suit. If it becomings a glaring problem, you could also suggest a single-serve coffee maker.

Refridgerator Real Estate

In an office with a lot of people, the fridge space is probably limited. Everyone wants to keep their lunch from going bad. That’s more than acceptable, so be reasonable and respectful.

What’s not acceptable is when you decide to bring lunch for the week and store it like you would in your own refrigerator. This can only be made worse by letting food spoil and then leaving some other person to clean it out. It’s gross and can get smelly.

Plenty of offices have implemented a system of labeling food with their initials and the date it’s put in there. After a week, it gets thrown out–no matter who it’s for.

Another benefit to labeling food is that there’s no question as to who it belongs to. If it doesn’t belong to you, don’t eat or drink it.

Also, if one of your coworkers tends to bring fragrant food, it might give yours a bad flavor. Use airtight containers to prevent smells from altering the taste. This also lessens the chance of leaks or spills.

Make Yourself at Home (The Right Way)

This might be what your boss meant by, “Make yourself at home.” At home, you replace what’s empty or low and wipe up spills.

Similar to the coffee rule, if you use the last of something, replace it. If there’s nothing to replace it with, let the office manager know.

No one likes washing their hands and having to air dry because there’s a cardboard tube where the towels should be. This can be applied to anything in the kitchen–if you notice supplies are low, speak up.

When using cutlery or plates, you should always wash and put them to dry. If there’s a dishwasher, place your dirty dish in there.

Finally, if something is broken, fix it yourself or let your supervisor know. Replace your garbage disposal if it’s leaking or leaving a stench. Let your boss know if the fridge isn’t cooling, etc.

Microwave Problems

Who cleans the microwave in your office? Hopefully, there’s a designated system for this duty. It’s not a difficult task and it doesn’t take long if done regularly.

When you microwave something that makes a mess, wipe the inside down. Without doing so, the next person is left to do it–and they may choose not to.

This means that food is repeatedly microwaved and becomes glued to it. Eventually, it begins to smell and can become a fire hazard.

This can be applied to any appliance. If you use it and make a mess, clean it.

Another rule for the microwave is to be considerate of WHAT you microwave. Foods with a strong smell, some ethnic foods, and even fish are better left at home.

Office Kitchen Etiquette: Behavior

When you go out to eat with your family, significant other, or boss, do you shovel food in your mouth? Do you chew with your mouth open?

Of course not. Why? Because it’s rude.

This is the type of basic etiquette that people notice and make them subconsciously like you less. So respect your co-workers by eating your lunch with some manners.

On the topic of behaviors, don’t gossip about your co-workers. The office kitchen is notorious for this high school behavior, and it only creates tension and problems.

The office kitchen is also considered a break room. As in, a break-from-work room. The implication is to not talk about work or office politics.

Instead, discuss weekend plans, your kids, or your hobbies.

Follow the Leader

You are the leader when it comes to office kitchen etiquette. If you see things amiss in your break room, you have to be the one to speak up.

You might be the low man on the totem pole, but you can gain respect and admiration from your co-workers by being mature and responsible. It might be challenging if they don’t cooperate at first, but don’t let it get you down.

It just takes a few people doing the right thing for people to follow suit. Things don’t always happen this way, but if it’s completely unbearable, speaking with your supervisor might be your next step.

If you recognize some other issues in your office, check out our post about conflict resolution.

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