DOD’s blog: Workplace kitchen wars

Last week a friend of mine sounded off on her Facebook wall about the proposed notices to be put up in the kitchen at her workplace. A meeting had even been held to decide how exactly to phrase the “Please clean up after yourselves” message so that it had maximum impact.

It appears that kitchen controversies are commonplace as the replies from across UK workplaces rolled in to fill up her Facebook wall. This is a small sample:

“They should do what they did at my company- take away all the mugs, glasses and paper cups and make everyone bring in their own and wash them up and leave them in their desks at the end of each day. No notes, no piles of crockery in the sink, no employee loyalty… Oh.”

“All office kitchens must have at least one passive-aggressive laminated sign with dodgy clip art from the office manager telling everyone to clear up. It is the LAW!”

“It must be the LAW…. AND if you work for the health service, the sign must also include a minimum of two spelling mistakes and one grammatical error.”

“I would like to thank you all for your contributions. I have solved the problem of my irritation at the office kitchen by staying at home.

Let’s ignore the insulting, and hopefully inaccurate, comment about our lovely health service, mainly because most workplace kitchens can be so afflicted. But asking around it appears that the ‘not washing your cups’ issue is merely scratching the surface.

What about:

  • The ‘no toasters because the smell of burnt toast is horrible’ rule?
  • Or the ‘people should eat breakfast at home and not use worktime to fuel up (especially if they use up all the office tea/coffee milk in cereal)’ rule?
  • And the ‘no smelly food in the microwave’ rule?

One wonders if the people who come up with all these rules spend as much time working out the importance of healthy eating at work.

Years ago I interviewed the HR director of a book publisher and was most impressed by her caring attitude towards the young staff. She acknowledged that pay was low for juniors joining the business so she saw it as the organisation’s duty to supply at least one subsidised, healthy, hot meal a day.

Workplace kitchen wars will continue, each battle slightly different depending on the workforce, because (to name just three):

  • We are a nation of tea drinkers,
  • Watercooler conversations are the office grapevine.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Now, who’s turn is it to unload the dishwasher?

Debi O’Donovan
Employee Benefits

Twitter: @DebiODonovan