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Office Rules

In Honor of National Courtesy Month and Self Improvement Month: 9 Ways Employees Can Improve and Be Nicer to Colleagues

Americans seem to fall into one of two categories — slobs or sticklers for neatness.

This is a country, after all, that came up with the TV series, “Hoarders.” Conversely, there is a whole set of people who love to watch tidying expert Marie Kondo on her Netflix series. And what was “The Odd Couple,” but a play, movie and TV series about a war between a guy who loved to clean and a guy who didn’t? While that neat/slob dynamic may be amusing in American culture, even if you’re using an office cleaning service, it can make for a stressful workplace. After all, commercial cleaning companies will make your offices far cleaner and tidier, but even the best janitorial service on the planet doesn’t do everything. Nobody can afford to have an office cleaning service post guards in the bathroom to make sure people flush after they go, for instance.

Fortunately, we have some ideas on how office workers can bring down some of the tension between the slobs and sticklers.

Stratus Building Solutions recently conducted a comprehensive survey of 500 employed men and women from around the country about office cleanliness, and came away with the conclusion that some people should be trying harder to pick up after themselves.

That’s why, this September, in honor of National Courtesy Month and Self Improvement Month, we are going to do our parts and share some of the nation’s workers worst habits in the workplace. If you’re answering “no” to any of these questions, maybe you can try to do a little better and make your coworkers happier.

Are you cleaning up after you use the bathroom? Hopefully you are. This seems like something everybody would do, but it seems to be done less and less. According to our survey, 29.2 percent of respondents — almost one-third — said that people are leaving urine on the bathroom seat. And 25.6 percent are “forgetting” to flush sufficiently — or leaving the toilet clogged. We also apparently need to be reminded to wash our hands; 24.5 percent said that their coworkers never wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Some employees put the toilet paper on the wrong way (7.8 percent) or “forget” to replace toilet paper (13.7 percent), though we will forgive the 10.9 percent who make weird noises in the bathroom. But not flushing and leaving urine on the seat? C’mon, America. We can do better than that!

Are you cleaning up after yourself after you use the kitchen? We aren’t doing much better in here either. It isn’t quite as gross a situation as the office restroom, but still, 34.8 percent of respondents said that their coworkers allow food to go bad in the refrigerator. You may want to watch what you bring to the breakroom to eat as well — 28 percent of you report that your coworkers are cooking powerfully odorous foods like fish in the microwave. Additionally, 17.5 percent of those surveyed said that their coworkers leave coffee or water drips all over the counter, and 26.4 percent leave dishes in the office sink.

A janitorial service company will clean your office kitchen, transforming it from a slovenly mess into a sparkling thing of beauty – but cleaning out the refrigerator is often not a service performed by commercial cleaning companies. Doing dishes often isn’t either, since the time that takes can be cost-prohibitive. So be a pal, be a friend, be a good coworker – and remember that others are using the kitchen and breakroom as well and tidy up after yourselves.

Are you being a good caffeine friend? According to our survey, 15.7 percent said that your coworkers are taking the last cup of coffee without starting a new pot. Meanwhile, 11.1 percent “forget” to take their Keurig pod out when done, and 7.2 percent said that their colleagues “forget” to refill the Keurig with water.

Still, those are pretty low numbers — 80 percent or more of coworkers apparently do have good coffee managing habits, so maybe there is some hope for us after all.

But once again, an office cleaning service, as a general rule, doesn’t make coffee for its clients. A janitorial service, such as Stratus Building Solutions, will clean up the countertop that the coffee pot is on, but it’s up to the employees to handle the daily kitchen tasks.

Are you exercising at the office? And managing your body odor appropriately? Many of you exercise at the office, but 21 percent said that they aren’t fans of coworkers exercising in the office because it’s annoying, 34.6 percent said that it’s distracting, and 18.1 percent said that they think it’s smelly and sweaty.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that your office isn’t a gym locker room. Most people don’t mind you bringing in a gym bag that’s reeking of sweat (5.8 percent do, however, mind), and only 6.6 percent said that wearing or leaving out smelly gym clothes and sneakers is a problem. Still, it may help to remember that if you’re going to exercise outside of the office, which is a good thing, try to not bring in the residue of that workout when you do return.

Are you attracting wildlife into your office? Unless you work at a zoo, this is not a good thing. When asked, “Have you ever seen bugs or rodents inside of the office?” 51.3 percent said yes (48.7 percent said no). Sure, the occasional housefly is likely inevitable, but 22.9 percent of respondents said that their colleagues leave food in the trash that rots and then stinks. That, of course, can result in fruit flies or attract mice.

True, commercial cleaning companies can help keep pests away to some extent, but terrible daily hygiene habits make the fight much more difficult. It’s a good idea to put leftover food down a garbage disposal, start a compost heap away from the building or, if all else fails, put food waste in a trash can with a lid.

Are you staying home when you are sick? In this day and age, when working from home is easy for many professions, there are too many employees and executives who are coming into the office when they probably shouldn’t be.

According to those surveyed, 19.3 percent said that workers sneezing and coughing all over the office is a problem. In fact, 51.3 percent of respondents answered “yes,” to the question, “Do you use a paper towel or handkerchief to open doors because you think your office is unclean?

Given that, 41.2 percent said that they have seen a coworker throw up at work, you can imagine why a lot of people think their office is germy and unclean.

Are you monitoring your volume? When asked, “Which of these ‘noise pollution’ office problems are most disruptive to your productivity?” 14.7 percent of respondents said that their officemates were too loud when they were on conference calls and 13.5 percent said that video calls were a problem. Almost a third (30.8 percent) said that coworkers’ personal calls are disruptive. Many respondents (36.6 percent) said that colleagues laughing and making loud noises was a problem.

Well, you get the idea. It’s hard to work when other people are goofing off. On the other hand, if you’re screaming at your desk because you just saw a mouse, due to some rotting food somebody left in the trash, you’re forgiven.

Are you courteous with the thermostat? People were asked what they really find annoying in office behavior, and over a quarter of respondents (27.4 percent) said that they don’t like it when somebody demands a temperature in the office that is too hot or too cold. People like what they like, and there’s not likely anybody’s going to change anybody’s minds on what the perfect temperature should be. Still, you can be reasonable about it and talk things out. Or keep the peace and bring a sweater or a light cotton shirt to work.

In general, do you clean up after yourself? Fortunately, according to our survey, most businesses have some sort of strategy in place for keeping the office place clean, such as hiring an office cleaning service. Only 4.4 percent of the respondents said that “no one” cleans the office – not a janitorial service, not some of the coworkers, nobody. Meanwhile, 21.7 percent of respondents said that they, the employees, do it “when we have time.” So a little over 25 percent of America’s offices are underperforming and not using commercial cleaning companies when it comes to keeping their offices sanitized and well maintained.

If your office is filled with more slobs than neatniks, and especially if you have rotting food in the trash, urine on the toilet seat and people jumping on their desks and screaming due to mice scurrying about, give us a call. We may not be able to stop your coworkers from cooking fish in the microwave, but we can make that smell go away.

Hiring a professional commercial cleaning service like Stratus Building Solutions can make all the difference. Clean office environments tend to boost morale, which in turn boosts productivity and the company’s bottom line.