Who dares tackle the subject of the office kitchen?! It’s the space that causes the most unnecessary tension amongst colleagues. This all comes down to whether communal area rules are followed. Unless everybody pulls their weight, this and other communal spaces can turn into a battleground. Not only this, but they can become hives of unpleasantness, breeding both bacteria and discontent.
The Rise of the Communal Space
In modern offices, the kitchen is no longer the only communal space. With break out zones and games rooms on the up, there are plenty of open areas in which people are free to make mess. The challenges come along when it is time to clear the mess and leave the space as you found it. The increase in open, multifunctional spaces has proven to be great for business. Informal brainstorms and meetings in these spaces often incubate increased creativity and heightened focus. So the problem is not in the space itself.
A Matter of Etiquette
So, what are the rules which we assume that others should abide by? This is a set of unwritten rules, manners or etiquette. It may not be explicit, but these communal area rules are ingrained in most of us. More importantly, if we see them flouted we can be deeply offended and even angered.
The Most Common Complaints
So, what are the worst offending actions that colleagues commit? Those things that set most of our teeth on edge and raise our hackles. These horrific floutings of the communal area rules may be familiar…
Teabags in the Sink
Why not simply throw them in the bin? When you want to wash up a mug (because we know that you are a kind and courteous colleague!) and the sink is littered with others’ detritus, it’s no surprise that you feel cross!
Not only is this a nuisance when you come to heat up your own soup, but unwiped spillages can breed bacteria.
Mouldy Food in the Fridge
That sinister looking salad which no one will claim… Who should display the bravery to delve in and remove the item?
Communal Supplies Left Empty
After an epic meeting, you go to make the cup of tea that you’ve been fantasising about… only to find that the tea bags are out. If you use the last one, get some more!
The teaspoon graveyard. Sad looking spoons displaying layers of ground on staining is a sight that really shouldn’t exist any more… but it does! Get them washed up or in the dishwasher!
Piling Up the Dishes
At home with your family, or in a flatshare, the piling up of cups and plates by the dishwasher would put you in a rage. It’s no different in your office!
Impact on Productivity
For those colleagues who constantly find themselves picking up the slack when others ignore communal area rules, work life can become pretty demotivating. A sense of dissatisfaction in the workplace can grow and affect productivity. In the long term, this can increase staff turnover as dissatisfied staff seek pastures new. The people who have shown kitchen etiquette clearly show incentive and proactivity; so are they really the staff that you want to risk losing?
Provide Sufficient Facilities
So how does a business owner or office manager change how people behave regarding communal area rules? One of the first things is to ensure that the right facilities are available to allow staff to keep a space clean and clear. We mean recycling bins, a dishwasher and a plentiful supply of cleaning equipment. How about having a stock of permanent markers in the kitchen so that people can easily name their foodstuffs? This certainly prevents arguments about whose yoghurt is attempting to walk out of the building!
Clarify Communal Area Rules
So, without being overbearing, what guidelines should you have in a communal area? Rules that should be explicitly detailed in staff newsletters and on the wall. This leaves all staff with no excuse. Ensure that these rules apply to everyone – and that includes the CEO!
- Dirties should be dealt with by the person who used them – be this washed up or placed in a dishwasher.
- Supplies should be replenished by those who finish them
- Take responsibility for the fridge!
- Leave the space as you would wish to find it. Because what goes around comes around.
- Report any maintenance issues. Things can only be repaired when the powers that be know it’s broken!
- Use the space respectively. Noise pollution is damaging too!
Carrot, not stick! If your kitchen or break out rooms remain in good repair and in a clean and clear condition, reward staff with improved facilities or an afternoon of cake! Staff are more likely to respond to these incentives rather than threats.
It’s all very well and good to say to colleagues that they must clean up after themselves. However, there’s always a deadline looming or an urgent meeting to leave for. It is these ‘one off’ circumstances that lead to a breakdown in communal area rules. So the only way to solve this bone of contention once and for all is to get a professional cleaning contractor to manage communal areas. From kitchens to games rooms and even crockery left on desks, you can instruct your office cleaning contractor to manage these spaces.
Your communal areas are important. And so communal area rules are vital to allow these spaces to fulfil their potential in encouraging creativity and focus. At CJH Cleaning, we manage regular cleaning throughout the office to relieve pressure on your workers. Our aim is to allow your staff to focus on the business and work more productively within their clean environment.