Top office gripes revealed as ‘living with Covid’ plan unfolds – like cooking smelly food

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While some office workers might remain in masks in a bid to be considerate towards others, there are many cardinal sins illustrated which won’t be so well received by colleagues – but can you spot them all?

The puzzle comes as research reveals some of the biggest office gripes – include sitting in tiny meetings rooms with lots of people, having to hot desk, and no longer being able to wear comfy clothes.

A survey polling 2,000 office workers revealed the most common moans have evolved during the pandemic, with a fifth no longer liking it when colleagues get close.

Another quarter – just as pre-lockdown – judge others for coughing and sneezing without putting a hand in front of their mouth.

People seemingly not washing hands after using the toilet, failing to sanitise regularly, or opening windows without checking with colleagues nearby, also annoy many.

While reams of paper being used on the printer, and others spreading themselves out, also made the top 50 list.

Staff also get frustrated with colleagues who leave lunch dishes lying around and think nothing of discarding paper towels on the floor.

As many as 42 percent of employees admit they are far more irritated with their surroundings now they have returned to the office.

And four in ten are less tolerant of colleagues, the boss and customers than they were pre-pandemic.

The global pandemic and the heightened focus on our own hygiene and health has changed what behaviours we find frustrating now that we’re starting to head back to the office

Essity spokesman

A spokesman for hygiene and health company Essity, which carried out the study, said: “Office gripes have always existed, but the global pandemic and the heightened focus on our own hygiene and health has changed what behaviours we find frustrating now that we’re starting to head back to the office more regularly.

“Poor hand hygiene, coming in with a cough or a cold, and a failure to show any care or courtesy towards being environmentally friendly, have all shot to the top of our lists of bugbears.

“For employers, now is the time to put measures in place to minimise any chance of these office gripes upsetting employees that are being welcomed back after so long at home.”

It emerged the standard of hygiene in the office since going back has been a concern for almost half of those polled.

As a result, over one in four (28 percent) now take their own cutlery to work, while 38 percent clean their own workspace daily, and four in ten carry their own hand sanitiser or soap.

A further 24 percent have tried to avoid using public transport since returning to the office, preferring to walk or use a private vehicle, and 44 percent think nothing of wearing a mask while working, if requested.

And more than a third now refuse to take part in the tea round, and take their own mug to work for when they want a brew.

Employers have some way to go to keep staff happy, as 36 percent say they would like a daily cleaning regime to include sanitisation of desks and communal areas, and 31 percent want things like anti-bacterial wipes available around the building.

A fifth of workers have already talked to management about getting recyclable items like paper towels and sanitary products in for staff to use.

While 18 percent have asked the boss to supply appropriate recycling bins, and a quarter (24 percent) want them to address the overall temperature of the building.

The space between desks, getting rid of single-use items like plastic cups, and turning off electrical items are all things workers have tried to implement with their superiors.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than two-thirds of office workers say their whole working day can be ruined by a few bug bears, and nearly half admit they felt really anxious about returning to their workplace.

The average worker, polled via OnePoll, admits they grumble for up to a quarter of an hour every day – about things like people speaking loudly, computers being slow, IT issues, and the phone ringing constantly.

The spokesman for Essity added: “There are lots of small measures employers can take to make the workplace a better space for workers.

“Whether it is improving recycling practices, making the office feel more sanitary, or giving workers the surroundings they need to feel comfortable, small steps go a long way.”


  1. People speaking loudly
  2. People coughing and sneezing without putting their hands in front of their mouth
  3. People coming into work when ill
  4. Computers being slow
  5. IT issues
  6. Smelly toilets
  7. People who leave dirty dishes in the work sink
  8. People not washing their hands after using the loo
  9. Filthy toilet seats/bowls
  10. Computers crashing
  11. People not cleaing the microwave when their food spills
  12. People who get too close when talking to you
  13. People that wear their face mask under their nose, when asked to wear one
  14. Printers breaking down
  15. Someone sucking up to the boss
  16. Someone cooking smelly food at lunch
  17. Someone calling in sick when you know they aren’t ill
  18. Food left in the fridge which is past its use-by date
  19. The phone ringing constantly
  20. Someone who opens the window in the winter when it’s cold and the heating is on
  21. Freezing cold air conditioning
  22. Covid/vaccine conspiracy theorists
  23. People who think nothing of discarding paper towels all over the toilet floor
  24. Having to sit in small meeting rooms with lots of people
  25. Lights left on in rooms unnecessarily
  26. People leaving packets/rubbish on desks/in meeting rooms
  27. Lunch dishes left lying around on desks
  28. Hotdesking
  29. People who refuse to recycle
  30. People who open the windows without checking with people nearby
  31. Grubby fingers on shared keyboard/mouse if hotdesking
  32. Not being able to wear comfy clothes
  33. People not putting a new toilet roll on the holder
  34. People who don’t sanitise regularly
  35. Empty milk cartons left in the fridge
  36. People leaving half-eaten food in the fridge/kitchen
  37. People printing off huge documents and wasting paper
  38. Not being able to listen to music
  39. People “spreading out” their desk onto yours
  40. The wrong things left in recycling bins
  41. Fighting over parking spaces
  42. No-one ever saying thank you
  43. People who start a phone conversation without any pleasantries first
  44. People who sing or whistle without realising it
  45. No recycling bins
  46. People putting food in bins right next to your desk
  47. Someone who turns the air con on and then opens a window
  48. No air conditioning
  49. Someone stealing your favourite cup
  50. People who hang up the phone without saying goodbye

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