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The 9 most annoying things about working in an office - according to staff in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 20:00 16 July 2019

Do you judge the person at work who doesn't participate in the tea round?   Picture: Getty Images/George Doyle

Do you judge the person at work who doesn't participate in the tea round? Picture: Getty Images/George Doyle

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A new survey has revealed our top gripes, from food theft, to colleagues who never wash up.

Would you lick your lunch, or lace it with laxatives to ward off hungry colleagues? Have you labelled your favourite pen so it doesn't end up in the bottom of Mary from accounts' handbag?

These are just some of the lengths office workers in the East of England have gone to in order to protect what's rightfully theirs.

The quirks were highlighted as part of a recent survey of more than 2,000 people by My Nametags, which asked participants to reveal what makes them happy…as well as their top gripes.

A (very small) sample survey of my own colleagues over the desk uncovered that we are most peeved by:

Some offices are so cold workers may have thought about wearing hats, gloves and scarves  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoSome offices are so cold workers may have thought about wearing hats, gloves and scarves Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. People who don't clean the kitchen area. I mean, really does it take that much effort to wipe up that little blob of spilt milk?

2. Messy toilets…I once worked in an office where someone left bogies (yes bogies) all over the walls.

3. Unidentified festering food left in the fridge.

4. Air conditioning - can you really ever please everyone? I've often thought of bringing a blanket in!

5. Flicking lights.

6. People who leave used coffee mugs at their desk when they go on holiday - and having to clean it/make them tea when they get back.

7. Booking a meeting room, only to find someone else using it when you turn up.

What makes you a good colleague?

Apparently these are the traits you need to be valued in the office.

1. 94% like those who take on workload for them while they are busy (go figure).

2. 91% appreciate colleagues who take calls from tricky clients for them.

3. 80% have love for those who are part of the office tea round.

4. And 74% give a big tick to those who share their stationery.

Half of those surveyed said they'd prefer office perks and a happy working environment over a pay rise. And one in 10 would be happy to never answer the phone again rather than get a pay increase….who said it's good to talk?

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Could making the tea line you up for that promotion?

Remarkably a quarter of people surveyed (mostly men) believed making their boss tea could lead to a promotion. Half of those surveyed said they secretly judged colleagues who didn't make tea. And a sneaky 17% actively chose not to drink tea and coffee in the office, purely to get out of the hassle of making everyone else a cuppa.

What are we mad about in the East of England?

Our top bugbears include:

Colleagues not pulling their weight (56%)

Those who take credit for other people's work (45%)

Colleagues who come in late (37%)

Those who spend too much time on social media (33%)

Leaving washing up in the sink (32%)

Confrontational colleagues (31%)

Never getting the air-con temperature right (24%)

Having to organise social events (10%)

Other minor issues ranged from eating smelly food to eating too loudly.

Some of the most amusing statistics to come out of the study (I think) revolve around theft. OK, stealing's not funny…but it's the pettiness that gets me. Although, honestly, I've not yet been at the receiving end of such a crime. Noone's ever stolen my pen (most notably because I can almost always never find it myself and have to root in the stationery cupboard on Mondays). And, I haven't ever put my lunch in the work fridge. Not sure anyone would want my 5:2 diet day fare - chopped cabbage, carrots, peppers and Ryvita crispbreads.

Apparently 35% of workers have had their food stolen though. Which begs the question…what is it that they're putting in there? Sure, a lovely, decadent slice of chocolate cake could be appealing, but who wants a limp ham sandwich, or a colleague's wife/husband's leftover, dried out pasta from the night before?

It seems the issue is rife. And some have gone the whole hog to turn off would-be food thieves. Retaliation has included licking their food (I imagine they leave a note on top to relay this information), and even adding laxatives in a bid to catch colleagues out.

Stationery theft is up there with food. A whopping 87% of those surveyed had had items stolen from the sanctuary of their desks….and 39% were irrationally protective over treasured items such as a favourite pen. This has led to office arguments (19%), naming individual items with labels (14%) and with some even going so far as to lock their items away before they log off for the day.

Commenting on the findings, psychologist Beverley Stone said: "From my perspective, the most significant finding from the research is the large extent that people are motivated by small gestures. These are often overlooked by organisations, or even considered not important. The environment we work in has a huge impact on our self-image and we need to feel valued and respected in order to thrive. Positive interactions with colleagues are so vital, as they reinforce feelings of belonging and being appreciated. Not feeling supported or believing that their colleagues lack integrity can lead talented people to look elsewhere for work, which will have a big impact on a business. This is why social rituals, however small, are an important part of UK office culture."

As for me. I'm off to leave something in the fridge with the hopes someone will covet my cuisine enough to want to chow down on it at lunchtime tomorrow.

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