I’d be really interested to see the global statistics for altercations dealt with by human resources that began or were inspired by the office kitchen.
Familiarity breeds contempt, but so does eating other people’s sandwiches, apparently. When food or coffee consumption is involved, tempers are unstable and conflict is inevitable.
I like to think about conflict or aggression like energy. It can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred from one body to another. The office kitchen provides enough of a platform to let these emotions run wild – especially since the modern office encourages repression. Most people call this ‘etiquette‘.
Here is our survival guide to navigating the minefield that is the office kitchen.
1. Speak the unspoken rules
Every kitchen has the obvious rules like no horseplay or kettle juggling, but if there are frequent offenders breaking the boundaries, you need some serious documentation to put them in place. Establish some comprehensive ground rules – the types that would stand-up in a court of law.
2. Share the load
If you work in a small office, you probably don’t have the privilege of cleaning staff. Figure out a fair way of scheduling duties that don’t make any leniencies according to business or seniority. Everyone uses the kitchen so everyone has to pitch in.
3. Anoint a leader
There needs to be some sort of order within the kitchen realm. A socialist system just doesn’t work because you can’t trust people. Entrust a monthly manager who can politely keep order – otherwise you’ll get a Lord Of The Flies situation.
People can’t be trusted to remember anything these days. Think of all the times you’ve had to reset a password to something. Right, now imagine listing a load of kitchen rules – no-one will remember the all. Like Martin Luther, put your commandments up on the wall.
5. Remember what your mum taught you
Just respect other people’s space and food. Kitchen conflicts don’t need to happen but if you insist on eating other people’s sandwiches, you’re gonna get sat down.