What are the things that wind you up most at work?

office workers

Messy toilets are Brits’ biggest workplace annoyance, Ebuyer has discovered in a poll of 2,000 office workers. But more than one in six workers have a strong dislike or hatred for specific sounds, as they have chosen the sound of people eating and breathing loudly the most irritating habit in the workplace.

As well as noisy eaters, other irritating work habits were also unveiled as part of the research. Questionable toilet hygiene was found to be the biggest bugbear followed by sinks left piled high with dirty crockery and jammed printers coming in as the third biggest annoyance in the office.

When asked how often their blood is boiled by the most infuriating situation each person chose, two in five (40%) said it happens two or three times every week.

Here are the top ten most common workplace irritations, with explanations of why people named them the most exasperating:

1. Toilets left in a mess.

“People are often unwilling to clean up their own mess and leave the toilet suitable for the next person. They need to learn that the toilet brush is not their enemy and that a spray of air freshener can go a long way. As can an email to the facilities manager, explaining they’ve just blocked the toilet for whatever reason.”
Malcolm, a recruitment consultant from Slough.

2. Sinks left full of dirty crockery.

dirty dishes in sink“When you’re hungry after a long morning of work, the last thing you want is to have to wade through mountains of dirty dishes and cutlery in order to make your lunch. Nothing should get between a man and his food.”
Jamie, a civil servant from York.

3. Printer left jammed by someone who then didn’t clear it.

“It often falls to me to sort out the printer several times a day. Not because other people don’t know how, but because they can’t be bothered. If I didn’t unjam it, the whole office would back up.”
Sam, a publishing distribution manager from Nottingham.

4. Mouldy food or milk left in the fridge.

“People who leave milk or food to go off in the fridge genuinely irritate me so much! First of all it’s a waste of perfectly good food. If they’d leave a note saying ‘help yourself’ it would stop it going to waste. Secondly, it’s gross and smells awful. The work fridge is a no-go area for me nowadays. I can’t face it anymore.”
Edi, a retail manager from Ipswich.

5. Office unbearably hot or cold.

cold office worker

Actual photo of the Ebuyer offices – on the hottest day of the year

“There is never a steady temperature in our office, it’s always far too hot or absolutely freezing and it drives me mad! Sometimes it feels like we’re sat in arctic conditions when it’s 25 degrees outside because people turn the air conditioning on full blast.”
Tanya, a communications specialist from Edinburgh.

6. Noisy eaters.

“Whenever I’m at my desk alongside a noisy eater it genuinely infuriates me, to the point that I will sometimes put my phone headset on just to try and block out the noise. It’s incredibly difficult to be a friendly face or voice at the end of the phone when someone is chewing so loudly in your ear!”
Iain, a receptionist from Southampton.

7. Lunch stolen from the fridge.

“It’s so annoying when you’re hungry and your lunch goes missing. A few bags of snacks I could write off as harmless (or an accident), but when your entire lunch goes missing it’s not anymore! I recently had an entire box of hummus and pita bread stolen. A week later, I again found someone had helped themselves to some of my snacks from the fridge. Leave my lunch alone!”
Karolina, a digital media coordinator from Leeds.

8. Milk used up by one person, leaving none for others.

“To have to resort to tea without milk is a sign that my career hasn’t worked out quite as well as I was hoping. There’s one person who makes an enormous bowl of porridge each morning, leaving the rest of us in the office fight over what’s left.”
Elliot, an IT technician from Skipton.

9. Someone constantly talking.

“Nobody wants to sit in silence, but there’s a handful of very loud people in my office who never seem to shut up all day. Surely it’s not possible to do a decent amount of work and constantly talk about Eastenders?”
Christine, an advertising manager from Bradford.

10. Spillages left all over the kitchen.

“There might not be any point crying over spilled milk, but when it gets underneath the things on the work surface and goes rancid, it does bring me close to tears. Plus, when you put your hand on what you expect to be a clean surface to find it’s sticky, as though someone sneezed into a tissue and used that to wipe the counter top, it’s really not pleasant.”
Glenda, a healthcare coordinator from Swindon.

Of course we all have busy days that often mean that we get wound up much more easily at work than we do at home, and we all have colleagues that don’t help that situation at all. What is surprising, though, is how regularly these things happen. Just 6% said their pet peeves happen less than once a month, but 58% said more than once a week.

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