Workplace Kitchen Etiquette

A friend of mine recently told me about a co-worker who, when he was eating in the work kitchen, had eating habits that upset many of his co-workers. This started my thinking about the etiquette of the workplace kitchen.

The Fridge
Do not leave your old food in the office fridge. Nobody wants to use work time to go through common space, throw out garbage and have to disinfect because you “forgot” about that sandwich from last month.
Respect other people’s food that is already in the fridge and don’t shove and squash it so that you can fit your lunch in. See what re-organisation can be done so everyone’s food fits in. And only refrigerate what needs to be kept cold.

Eating Habits
It is necessary to understand the Australian way of eating. Today we have people from many countries and cultures in our workforce and it is important they learn our ways when eating in a communal work kitchen – when in Rome….. For example, we do not eat food and then spit out the bones. We cut the food off the bone before we put the food in our mouth and leave the bones on the plate. Another example is that we use a knife and fork and not our fingers when eating most food. If you come from a different country and culture, you should either ask your co-workers how to eat certain foods or watch how they eat them.

Clean up and Wash Up After Yourself
Even if your company has a cleaning service, it doesn’t give you leeway to being a slob. Others need to eat in that kitchen and need to have the ability to prepare their lunch or snack in a clean environment. Remember you are one of many and if everyone left a little mess, you would wind up with something you would never want anyone to face.

Kitchen Supplies
If your company supplies plastic utensils, serviettes, paper towels etc and you run low, either refill the container or to let the appropriate person know that you need to re-order. Don’t leave an empty box of forks for someone to get irritated over.

Take Out the Garbage
If the garbage bin is full, either alert someone who has the responsibility to take care of it or do it yourself. Don’t shove your rubbish on top and walk away. As an employee of the company, it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to the efficiency of the company – even in the kitchen.
Treats
If you help yourself to treats that other people bring in to share, choose a day that you will bring in treats. However, if you do not wish to eat the treats that people bring in, do not feel obligated to bring in things to share.

Strong Odours
Food with a strong odour is not for everyone. Be very mindful of the odour of your food. Also, if you heat up food with a strong odour in the microwave, the microwave will then smell for quite some time afterwards. Some companies have stated policies against using the office microwave to heat up pungent foods.

Wipe the Microwave
In keeping with microwave etiquette, wipe down the microwave if your food or beverage splatter. Nothing is more disgusting than opening the microwave to somebody else’s old, dried, rotten splatter.

Do Not Eat Other People’s Food
Only eat and drink what is yours. No matter how tempting another employee’s drink or food appears, it doesn’t belong to you. Unless the person offer you some, pretend it isn’t there. If you crave it, add the item to your shopping list and get your own.

Label Your Food
Write your name in bold letters to make sure there is no doubt about who your food or drink belong to. This way, someone can’t honestly say he accidentally picked up something he thought was his.

Leave Appliances as You Found Them…
or better than you found them. When you use an office appliance such as a toaster or microwave, check it afterward and make sure you didn’t leave crumbs or splatters.

Avoid a Floor Hazard
If you spill something, clean it up. You don’t want to be responsible for someone slipping and falling.

Refrain From Comments
Unless you are sincerely interested in somebody’s recipe, keep your thoughts about other people’s food to yourself. What other people are eating is none of your business.

Post Some Rules
If there isn’t already a list of rules posted on the office kitchen wall, consider making one. Before you post, ask for input from other employees and get permission from your supervisor.