8 Rules for Office Kitchen Etiquette

The room in the workplace that is rife with the most conflict and emotional turmoil is not the boardroom, or your boss’s office, or that conference room that’s most often used for annual reviews. It is the office kitchen.

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Every office has a sandwich thief, and about 30 victims who would cheerfully give said thief life in prison, were it an option. The person who steals his co-workers’ lunches knows what he’s doing, and that he’s violating the rules. But there are other laws of workplace kitchen etiquette that seem to elude many workers — even the ones who are otherwise perfectly nice people. Heed these rules in the workplace kitchen.

1. Replenish the Coffee Pot

If you take the last cup of coffee, make more, unless it is later in the day and you know nobody will want any. Or, if you work in an office that has an individual coffee cup maker, like a Keurig, make sure the water is filled before you leave the kitchen. Don’t just leave it to the next person to refill.

2. Bring Treats

If you help yourself to treats that other people bring in to share, choose a day that you will bring in treats. If you don’t participate by giving as well as taking, you will get a reputation as a moocher. However, if you do not wish to eat the treats for any reason, do not feel obligated to bring in things to share.

3. Do Not Complain About Treats

If somebody goes out of his or her way to fill the candy jar, don’t complain that your favorite candy is never supplied. It’s not like you have a contract stating you get fun-size Almond Joys as part of your pay package. When you dip your hand into that candy jar, say thank you — and refill the jar yourself sometimes.

4. Do Not Microwave Stinky Foods

Strong aromas are not for everyone. Even if you don’t mind the aroma of your tuna fish and broccoli casserole, the rest of the office might not want to breathe it in for the rest of the afternoon. Some places of employment actually have stated policies against using the office microwave to heat up pungent foods. Even if it smells good, it may lessen the productivity of others who are not on their lunch break as they get distracted by the smells of a meal.

5. Wipe the Microwave

In keeping with microwave etiquette, wipe down the microwave if your food or beverage splatters. Nothing is more disgusting than opening the microwave to somebody else’s old, dried, rotten splatter.

6. Wash Your Dishes

Unless you work in an office that has a maid service, do not leave your dirty dishes in the sink for somebody else to wash later. No, you are not more important than the secretary, and the secretary isn’t paid to clean up after your kitchen mess.

7. Throw Out Your Moldy Food

Do not leave your old food in the office fridge. Nobody wants to use work time to go through common space, throw out garbage, and have to disinfect because you “forgot” about that sandwich from last month. Ew.

8. Refrain From Comments

Unless you are sincerely interested in somebody’s recipe, keep your thoughts about other people’s food to yourself. Comments such as, “Just a sandwich for lunch?” or “Fast food again?” are not appreciated and what other people are eating is none of your business, unless they left it splattered all over the microwave.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a workplace kitchen, and do people use it in a respectful manner? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.