5 Tips in Office Break Room Etiquette from GOS
Your office break room is a community space. It’s a place where you and your coworkers can relax after a stressful call, grab lunch, and gab about the latest episode of She-Hulk.
But because your office’s break room is a common area, it’s up to you and your coworkers to keep it clean. Break room etiquette is an important part of using your break room correctly. At GOS, we are committed to keeping you in the good graces of your coworkers by giving you the 5 essential tips for office break room etiquette.
We sell plenty of janitorial and cleaning supplies that you can add to your office break room to help you keep it clean. Beyond keeping your break room spic and span, there are some other key things you can do to make your break room a livable space for all.
Tip #1: Thou Shall Not Make a Colossal Mess
We’ve already written about break room etiquette as part of a longer article on your ultimate break room checklist, but we want to focus here on break room etiquette alone.
Take a gander at the break room pictured below:
Are these workers standing too close? Maybe. We’ll leave that matter to HR.
The point is you can clearly see how neat this office break room is. From the stacked cups to the pitcher of milk next to the coffee pot, these are employees who really care about the condition of their break room.
What don’t you see?
You don’t see wrappers littering the counter. You don’t see random slices of toast scattered all over the place. This is the kind of break room where you can enjoy a quiet, intimate (ahem…) cup of coffee with a coworker.
This is the kind of break room that you want to aspire to create.
Remember to clean up after yourself. Wipe up any spills. Clean up all splatters. Brush away your crumbs.
Tip #2: Break Room Refrigerator Etiquette.
What is this poor baby doing? Are they making themselves a delicious fruit plate?
No! This baby has just discovered a year’s old salad behind the fruit that one of their coworkers left behind to wilt and mold.
(Let’s quickly address the elephant in the room: why is there a baby working at this office? Recent research suggests that babies make great office screamers. If your office is too quiet, and your workers are too productive, employ a baby because they really bring the noise.)
* GOS legal wants you to know we are joking. We fully respect both child labor laws and babies’ right to autonomy.
The point is: don’t leave old food in your break room refrigerator. News flash: food goes bad eventually. And none of your coworkers want to clean out your old food from the refrigerator.
So give your coworkers a helping hand by periodically checking the office fridge for your old, expired food.
Break room fridge etiquette is one of the most important things to consider in making your break room habitable for you and your coworkers.
Tip #3: Label Your Office Fridge Food
Break room refrigerator etiquette is so important in giving you and your coworkers a space to decompress that we need to focus on it at greater length.
Contrary to popular belief, the food in your office’s break room doesn’t belong to everyone who happens across it. Unlike the quirky items you use to personalize your workspace, food in the office break room actually belongs to someone.
We recommend you label your food in order to avoid any confusion. We have good reasons why.
For example, if you and your coworkers go out for takeout, you might have leftovers. The restaurant may put everyone’s leftovers in the same brown cartons. Furthermore, what if you and a coworker ordered the same lunch?
There you are about to finish the Chicken Pad Thai you had for lunch yesterday. Or should I say, you think you’re about to finish your Chicken Pad Thai, but you’re actually chowing down on a coworkers lunch.
Labeling your food saves everyone from the embarrassment of eating someone else’s food.
Don’t Eat Anyone Else’s Food Intentionally
This rule should really be categorized as “Of Course, It Goes Without Saying that I Shouldn’t Eat Someone Else’s Lunch.”
But you’d be surprised.
Even if your coworker failed to put their name on their food, you should practice a little restraint and not eat it. This is break room refrigerator etiquette 101.
Tip #4: Microwaves Do Not Clean Themselves
In the episode of The Office, “Frame Toby,” receptionist Pam Beesley, disgusted by the mess her coworkers have been leaving in the microwave, leaves a note reminding her coworkers that the microwave is a “SHARED kitchen appliance,” and they should clean up after themselves.
After her coworkers react negatively to her note, Pam escalates the situation by leaving even more notes. The rest of “the office” apparently does not think a messy microwave is a problem.
At GOS, we’re firmly on the side of Team Pam. No one wants to use a disgusting, messy, microwave.
When your food explodes in the microwave, clean it up with paper towels and other cleaning products purchased in bulk from GOS.
Tip #5: You Finish It, You Fill It
So you just finished the last cup of coffee from your office’s coffee maker.
What should you do.
A. Walk away whistling and enjoy your coffee
B. Walk away not whistling and enjoy your coffee
C. Refill the coffee pot
D. None of the above
The correct answer to this question is C. If you finish something, refill it. This goes for paper towels, napkin dispensers, coffee pots, or anything else that needs refilling.
If you notice you’re out of something in the break room, tell your office manager that you need more. You’ll be the office hero.
Office Break Room Signs
One of the key mistakes that Pam Beesley made when she posted her note about the dirty microwave was that she printed her own sign.
Office break room signs are a great way to let your employees know what’s expected of them in the break room—and they don’t have to be written in a passive aggressive way.
Now that you know some of the more important rules of your office’s break room, let GOS print official break room signs that will steer employees in the right direction.