The 6 commandments of break room etiquette

On the Job

The 6 commandments of break room etiquette

Oh my gosh, what’s that smell?

It’s not the first thought you want to have when you walk into your office break room.

Reheating last night’s leftover fish and burning popcorn in the microwave are just two of the major faux pas co-workers commit in shared break spaces.

Wait, that was you with the cashew shrimp?

Better keep reading for a few other tips to help you avoid getting the stink-eye from your co-workers.

  • Fill the coffee pot. No fair pouring the last cup and sneaking off quietly. If you drink it, you make it. And those dregs creating a burnt crust on the bottom of the pot at 3 p.m.? Toss them — and see the next tip.
  • Keep it clean. Throw out your trash, wipe off counters and inside the microwave if needed. If you must leave a container to soak in the sink, remember to come back for it shortly. Oh, and wash the coffee pot once in a while.
  • Share the fridge. Bring only what you plan to use each day. Don’t hog the space by stowing a week’s worth of groceries.
  • Limit shop talk. Note the “break” part of break room. Whether you’re just standing in front of the microwave for 60 seconds or sitting down to eat, this isn’t the time to corner a co-worker about your project. Instead, ask about weekend plans or compliment that new haircut.
  • Use the space creatively. On the flip side, if your break space is fairly large it might be a nice change of venue for a small team meeting outside peak lunch hours. Still, be aware of who’s around you and save confidential conversations for more private settings.
  • Thou shalt not steal. Really, do we even need to say this? Mistakes can happen (many yogurt cups look alike) so label your items if need be. Jot your initials on the yogurt lid with sharpie or use a distinctive lunch bag to eliminate a misstep.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you head to the breakroom for your lunch or a snack. Or you’ll be banished to the restroom to make your “iced” tea or “hot” coffee.

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