News Article

The Top 10 Office Pet Peeves—And 6 Ways To Deal With Them

Posted 4th May 2023 • Written by Amy Blaschka on •

After navigating a multi-year global pandemic, many companies welcomed a chance to bring their teams back to the office.

Returning to work in person has many benefits, including increasing co-worker camaraderie and face time, encouraging collaboration, and fostering deeper relationships.

But all that togetherness can also highlight some downsides of the in-office work environment.

Explore Startups recently surveyed 1,000 office workers to determine their biggest grievances. Not surprisingly, the list of pet peeves included insensitive or clueless behaviors and things that negatively impacted a worker’s ability to work.

The survey found the top ten office annoyances and the percentage of workers who dislike them, ranked from most annoying to least, were:

Gossip and office politics - 80%

People taking others’ lunch - 78%

Inconsiderate co-workers (e.g., messes) - 76%

Constant interruptions - 75%

Loud and annoying ringtones - 72%

Poorly organized meetings - 71%

Overcrowded and noisy office spaces - 69%

Smelly food in the office - 68%

Inadequate temperature control - 62%

Forced birthday celebrations - 55%


Jeremy Reis, the founder of Explore Startups, suggests not letting these pain point findings go to waste. “Entrepreneurs should consider these factors when designing their own workspaces or implementing remote work policies to provide employees with the best possible experience.”

But even if you can’t make changes to your working environment, there are things you can do to mitigate these annoyances. Here are six tips on how to deal with difficult co-worker habits and ensure yours don’t negatively impact others:


1. Maintain open communication (and an open mind)

Communication is the first step in addressing any issue. If a co-worker’s behavior bothers you, address the issue politely and directly. Choose a private setting, explain how their actions impact your work, and suggest a solution. And if a colleague approaches you about your habits, try your best to listen without getting defensive.


2. Up your self-awareness

Before you heat up your garlic-infused leftovers or blast your favorite music from your cubicle, take a moment to consider how your actions might impact others or how you would feel if a co-worker engaged in similar behavior. If you wouldn’t like it, chances are they won’t either. The greater your awareness of your behavior, the easier it will be to adjust it.


3. Set a meeting agenda and stick to it

The worst meetings are the ones that feel disorganized and unnecessary. So if you’re running a meeting, have a clear agenda, and don’t waver from it. And if you find the conversation is moving off-topic, gently guide it back to your schedule and offer to discuss the issue outside of the meeting to get things back on track.


4. Use headphones

Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones if your office environment is noisy or distracting—or if you want to rock out to your favorite tunes. Doing so can help you eliminate unnecessary distractions and home in on your work (without bothering your co-workers who may not share your musical taste). Donning headphones will also signal to others that you’re trying to focus, which should reduce needless interruptions.


5. Establish and honor boundaries

Establish and communicate clear boundaries with your colleagues about your availability. For example, if you don’t want to be disturbed during certain hours, let your co-workers know and request that they respect your boundaries. Likewise, honor your colleagues’ boundaries to encourage them to do the same.


6. Create a positive work environment

Leading by example is the best way to encourage a positive and respectful work environment. Don’t engage in or encourage office gossip or politics, and be considerate of others’ needs and preferences. Show respect and understanding to your co-workers, and they are more likely to reciprocate.


“Understanding the pain points of office workers is crucial for entrepreneurs and businesses alike,” says Reis. “By identifying and addressing these issues, we can create a more productive and harmonious work environment for everyone.”

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