Common Sense & Courtesy Goes a Long Way in the Office Kitchen
If you've ever worked in an office, you've probably seen quite a lack of office kitchen etiquette.
You know what I mean: Dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs or other leftover food particles all over the
kitchen counter or the table, about two spoonfuls of coffee left in the coffee pot, filling the office
kitchen with the heavenly scent of rapidly burning coffee.
Many office workers simply forget or choose to ignore the rules of office kitchen etiquette, and
depending upon the size of your office kitchen, they can be many indeed. However, most of the
rules are simply common sense and an ounce of courtesy, so there really is no excuse.
Following is a list of rules pertaining to office kitchen etiquette that should cover most office
kitchens quite nicely.
1. Probably the most widely abused and ignored rule of office kitchen etiquette is to make a new
pot of coffee if you are emptying or near to emptying the pot. You wouldn't like it if you went into
the office kitchen and some inconsiderate worker before you helped himself to a large cup of
coffee, leaving behind only a minute amount of liquid for you to stare at and steam over. Don't
know how to make a new pot of coffee? Learn. Ask someone. It isn't rocket science. And it will
get you away from your desk for at least another minute or two.
2. Clean up after yourself, another rule of office kitchen etiquette that seems to be a foreign
concept to many. Just because the company has a cleaning person does not mean you have
your own personal maid or janitor. Other people need to eat in that kitchen or prepare their lunch
and snacks in a relatively clean environment, and leaving behind a mess of grease, crumbs,
spilled juice, and crumpled fast food wrappers will not win you any awards, but rather the title of
office a$$. It's simple; trash goes in the trash can. Look around the kitchen, you might find one.
It's the big container thing with a trash bag in it.
3. As an addendum to the trash rule, be sure to throw out any of your old leftovers that have been
residing in the fridge for some time, lest everyone soon be greeted with an unpleasant odor every
time they go to retrieve their own lunch and snacks. No one is going to dispose of your festering
leftovers for you. Just because they've been shoved to the back of the fridge does not mean they
are gone and forgotten. The smell will certainly make sure they aren't forgotten. Not going to eat
it? Toss it out, and save the office kitchen from an eventual quarantine.
4. Office workers are very protective of their lunch. They don't like to see it mashed, mangled,
pushed around or treated disgracefully as a result of another worker's general lack of office
kitchen etiquette. Please be kind to your coworker's lunch when placing your own in the fridge. If
the fridge is crowded, then instead of shoving aside everyone else's food, try putting some of your
great organizational skills to use and gently rearrange some things, chances are you'll find some
room and everyone's lunch will still be able to share space in relative harmony. And if not, then it
may be time to revisit rule number 3.
5. In many office kitchens, extra supplies are often kept within the cabinets, such as extra plastic
utensils or paper towels, If you use up any of these, then the proper thing to do is to replace
them. It's easy. Extend your arm, wrap your fingers around the cabinet door, retract your arm until
the door opens, and peruse the cornucopia of kitchen supplies. Select the item that needs to be
replaced, and proceed to do so. Congratulate yourself on a job well done and for being a team
6. If the garbage is full, don't just place things on top of it, in effect building a tower of dirty, smelly
refuse. If your company has a cleaning person, then alert him that garbage needs emptying or,
"gasp", empty it yourself. Even if you are a manager, emptying the trash is not beneath you. As
an employee of the company, and especially if you are a manager, it is your duty to contribute to
the efficiency of the company, and emptying a full trash can ensures that operations can continue
to run smoothly, at least in the kitchen.
The following are additional rules of office kitchen etiquette that may or may not apply to your own
Replace water in the water filter pitcher if you empty it or come close to emptying it. You know
who you are.
Clean out the toaster or microwave if you make a mess in it. Spattered butter or sauce. Melted
cheese. Burnt pieces of toast that continue to smoke and smolder every time the toaster is used..
You know who you are.
Don't make a pot of decaffeinated coffee in the regular pot without telling anyone. You know who
Don't use up all the milk without telling anyone. You know who you are. Most offices have
someone in charge of purchasing or replacing the community milk, but they need to be told
before its all gone.
Don't have cell phone conversations in the office kitchen. You know who you are. Other workers
are trying to use their paltry lunch breaks as a means to escape from the work day and perhaps
relax for a short while, and having to contend with someone rudely chatting away on their cell
phone is not conducive to a relaxing environment.
If you have any additional rules of office kitchen etiquette that I've neglected to include, feel free
to add them to the comments section below.