Office workers have cited their colleagues’ vociferous eating habits as their biggest office bugbear in a recent report.
Some 57% of the 2500 office workers surveyed by Ainsley Harriott Cup Soup said this is the most irritating aspect of office life.
The four biggest annoyances were all found to be food-related: 32% were irritated by messy colleagues; 27% said co-workers who fail to wash up was their biggest bugbear and 26% were most bothered by the smell of food being cooked.
Employees were also annoyed by lateness, colleagues who fail to listen and people talking over them in the office.
David Cherrie, marketing controller of Ainsley Harriott Cup Soup, expressed some surprise at the results. He said: “It's interesting that, rather than professional bugbears, such as not listening and talking over each other, it's food-related grievances that come out on top.
“Furthermore, we're all too cowardly to confront each other, meaning our working relationships could be suffering over what are basically poor table manners.”
The research shows most workers are indeed too polite to say anything. A vast majority (83%) of respondents said they were unwilling to speak to their colleagues about these issues.
Of those who do, men were found to be slightly bolder than women. Some 20% of male workers said they would attempt to deal with problems, compared to 14% of their female colleagues.
Etiquette-expert William Hanson said that whilst it is “very British” to avoid confrontation, it is sometimes the best course of action.
He advised: “Take the annoying colleague aside, face to face, and, with a nice smile and your nicest voice possible, subtly tell them your gripe.”