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8 Rules for the Office Kitchen
June 18th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler  Posted in In the Workplace

8 Rules for the Office KitchenEven if you have a private office, the workplace is a shared space. You have to be mindful that there are other people around, each trying hard - well, you hope - to do his or her job to the best of their abilities. People need to be shown respect and courtesy.

Unfortunately, rather than bringing out the best in us, shared spaces can often uncover our baser instincts of selfishness, laziness, forgetfulness, and just plain rude behavior.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the office kitchen, and if you’ve ever had food stolen or been forced to clean up someone else’s pile of dishes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If you want your shared office kitchen to run smooth and avoid arguments and passive aggressive notes, there are several rules you should follow.

1. Replace empties. Doesn’t matter whether it’s an empty pot of coffee - brew another one! - or an empty water cooler, if you’re the one to get the last drop, you should fix the problem.

2. Make a list. If your kitchen is restocked by someone else in the office (a person who should become your best friend, by the way), do them a favor and put up a list that people can write on when certain items are running low like milk or peanut butter. This is also useful as a request list, but don’t go crazy.

3. Friday dump day. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge all week, but if they are there at the end of the day on Friday, they’re getting tossed. Make it known by telling people and putting up signs, then purge everything so you don’t have a skunky fridge after the weekend. And if you’re one of the hoarders who saves leftovers and then forgets them, you need to accept this and try to remember your food next time.

4. Clean up after yourself. It seems like this doesn’t need to be said, but anyone who’s used a shared office kitchen knows it does. Your food splattered in the microwave? Wipe it up. You used a dish? Put it in the sink - and wash it. And don’t leave food out after you’re done with it, whether it’s milk (duh!) or bread.

5. No saved seats. We’re all friends here, even if we’re not, because this isn’t high school. Even if you hate Donnie from accounting and were waiting for Janet, you can’t refuse Donnie a chair at your table.

6. No calls. It can be tempting to use the kitchenette to make your personal calls. Compared to the cubicle bullpen, it’s fairly private. Unless, that is, there are a bunch of your coworkers trying to take their break or eat lunch in peace. Do everyone a favor and take those few extra steps outside. It’s just more polite.

7. Label everything. And respect other people’s labeled foods. Mistakes happen, but this is the best way to prevent that. Obviously this refers to your personal food from home, but don’t forget the coffee! One of the most annoying mistakes someone can make is brewing a new pot of regular… when it was supposed to be decaf. Or vice versa. Whatever you make, label it to avoid confusion.

8. Thall shall not… Lunch theft may seem like small potatoes, but in an office environment, it’s a big deal. Never take anyone else’s lunch knowingly without asking.
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Tags: office-culture, at-work, advice, in-the-workplace
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