The ‘Big Five’ office annoyances & How to deal with them

no_popcornOne of the best features of TDS’ signature business product, managedIP Hosted, is that it breaks some of the chains that constrain your business – chains between locations and chains that bind employees to their desks.

While we’re all embracing this kind of flexibility in the workplace, a question I have is “Why?” In the case of businesses with multiple locations, it’s easy to understand. But why, in general, is the ideal of the virtual workplace so appealing?

Personally, I think part of it is because the modern workplace can be so unappealing. From the gray cubicle walls to the long commutes, going to work is kind of a drag. But, life isn’t full of unicorns and rainbows so unless we’re full time remote workers, we need to learn to deal with office annoyances.

Here are five of the worst workplace behaviors and how to fix them:

1. Microwave With Care: First, let’s address how awesome it is for employers to provide us with microwaves in the office kitchen or break room. Thank you! It’s much appreciated. But, with great (microwave) power comes great responsibility. If you microwave popcorn, pop it for the minimum time suggested and monitor it closely the whole time – no stepping away for a few seconds. Microwave popcorn is literally a ticking stank bomb and nothing stinks up an entire office quicker than burnt popcorn. If you’re microwaving fish, on the other hand, just stop.

2. Make Coffee: If you empty a container of coffee before 11 a.m., make more coffee. It’s that simple. No one is too important to make coffee. Making coffee isn’t just about keeping everyone caffeinated, it’s also a simple way to show respect for your coworkers.

3. Keep Your Germs To Yourself: We promise to love our spouses in sickness and in health. We don’t promise the same thing to our office mates. If you’re sick, stay home (you can even get your calls routed to your home phone!). If you must come to the office, lay low and invest in some hand sanitizer.

4. Show Some Scentsability: This is going to get a little awkward, but beware the B.O. I’m not just talking about skipping a shower in the morning, but also about strong perfumes and hand lotions. While you may love to drown yourself in Drakkar Noir not everyone will appreciate your 80s-inspired masculine sensibilities. So when in doubt, apply sparingly. And, this should go without saying, but don’t clip your nails at your desk. I know. I can’t believe this is a common problem either. But research shows that it is. C’mon people!

5. Use Your Inside Voice: Finally, our awesome Polycom phones help make conference calls crystal clear. Unfortunately, open office environments make every phone call crystal clear to your neighbors. So don’t put calls on speaker phone and don’t talk so loudly that everyone is all too well aware of the sordid details of your personal life. Actually, sordid details are interesting. Keep sharing those sordid details, but pipe down on the mundane details like what’s for dinner.

I suspect nothing is going to tarnish the allure of working from home, but if we can stamp out some of these annoyances, it just may make coming into the office, no matter how often, a little more fun.

About Kris Prusynski

Kris works on the Commercial Marketing team at TDS Telecom and helps TDS achieve their online objectives through digital marketing and website optimization. She has worked in the digital marketing space for over 15 years, in product categories as diverse as shoes, banking, beds and pig farming supplies (really!). Kris has both undergraduate degrees and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and therefore bleeds Badger red. She’s a veteran blogger on topics ranging from digital marketing to Wisconsin fish frys to the sweet necessity of ugly office sweaters. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find her on Twitter or Google+ trying to decipher the mysteries of A Song of Ice and Fire. In her spare time, you can find Kris kayaking, hanging out at the dog park, or thinking about lawn care.

9 Responses to The ‘Big Five’ office annoyances & How to deal with them

  1. AnotherCuber February 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Don’t forget the energetic, enthusiastic loud, in-cube chomper. You know, the one next to you that brings SUPER loud items like crunchy celery, apples, crinkly chips in impossible-to-tear-open bags. The sounds of them eating haunt your days and nights. Often waking you from a wonderful sleep with the sounds of their spoon scraping the bottom of their yogurt cup.

    • kris February 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      Ha! That’s a VERY good point. It’s really the Big SIX Office Annoyances.

  2. John Hamilton-Smith February 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    You are so right! Actually I would like more cooking tools in the office… those microwaves with their burned on mac-and-cheese for instance. Hey I thought everyone liked my oily-petrol smell Eau de Dakar – well I like it.

    Thank you for your column – it is very important to get the environment right in the place where you spend a third of your life…

  3. Dennis February 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    You are sooo right about the coffe thing! I love it when the “one” comes up and fills the big 64oz coffee mug and walks away leaving you to make the next pot.

  4. Deb February 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Or moves the empty coffee carafe behind the full one and soon you have TWO empty ones

  5. Andy February 21, 2013 at 5:18 am #

    #3 should not be on this list…Calling in sick doesn’t sit well with HR many times… So don’t get sick – and if you do get sick, only call in sick if you’re on salary, not hourly (I believe hourlies are only allowed to get sick 7 times/year)

    • kris February 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm #


      I think you’re probably right in some cases, but I have to hope that more and more employers everywhere will think long term and realize that it’s more productive to have one person home when they’re sick than it is to have an entire staff of miserable, sick, unproductive workers.

      Also, I do think that technology makes it so much easier for us to work at home if we need to, so contagious employees can stay home but still be somewhat productive.

      I don’t think we can expect attitudes about this to change overnight, but they’re headed in the right direction.

  6. Jim Thompson April 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    How about incessant whistling in the cubicle farm? Or somebody from outside of the cubicle farm thoughtlessly whistling and snapping their fingers while walking through?


  1. In the (time) zone | TDS Business - May 28, 2015

    […] perfect potluck recipe, and some lucky souls can go an entire career without emptying a coffee pot (ahem). My weird skill is that I know what time it is in Auckland, New Zealand. When it’s 3:00 PM here […]

Leave a Comment