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Office Cleaning Survey

Survey Says: What Commercial Cleaning Data Shows About Office Employees

We spend a third of our lives at work. For many of us, our offices are our second homes. Unfortunately, some people are getting way too comfortable at the office with their messy and bad habits! Our bad habits and hygiene in the workplace are making life miserable for our colleagues. A new national survey commissioned by Stratus Building Solutions shows some shocking revelations for what our colleagues are doing what what’s getting on their nerves.

The survey of 500 employed men and women ask about office cleanliness, if their company employs a commercial cleaning service, and the most disturbing behaviors and conditions they’ve seen in the office. Some of the responses will shock you!

Read our full transcript to learn just how filthy offices can get and what habits of yours are driving your co-worker nuts! Also, view accompanying infographic here.

Getting Personal with Employees

The survey first learned personal information about our respondents to have a better understanding of the context for their responses. Our diverse pool of people helps to show us that everyone is dealing with the same problems at work!

1. When asked, ‘What is your current employment status?’

• 96.6% said Full-Time Employee.
• 3.4% said Self Employed.

2. When asked, ‘Do you work primarily in an office setting?’

• 99.8% said Yes.
• 0.2% said No.

3. When asked, ‘What is your age?’

• 33.8% said 25-34.
• 33.2% said 35-44.
• 33.0% said 45-54.

4. When asked, ‘Where do you live?’

• 12.9% said California.
• 7.6% said Florida.
• 3.8% said Georgia.
• 4.8% said Illinois.
• 3.4% said New Jersey.
• 9.9% said New York.
• 3.0% said North Carolina.
• 3.8% said Ohio.
• 6.6% said Texas.
• 3.4% said Virginia
• 3.2% said Washington.
• 1.0% said Alabama.
• 0.8% said Alaska.
• 2.2% said Arizona.
• 1.6% said Arkansas.
• 1.6% said Colorado.
• 1.0% said Connecticut
• 0.2% said Delaware.
• 0.6% said Hawaii.
• 0.8% said Idaho.
• 2.0% said Indiana.
• 1.0% said Iowa.
• 1.0% said Kansas.
• 1.6% said Kentucky.
• 1.4% said Louisiana.
• 0.2% said Maine.
• 1.4% said Maryland.
• 1.6% said Massachusetts.
• 2.0% said Michigan.
• 1.2% said Minnesota.
• 0.8% said Mississippi.
• 1.4% said Missouri.
• 0.4% said Montana.
• 0.6% said Nebraska.
• 0.4% said Nevada.
• 0.4% said New Hampshire.
• 0.4% said New Mexico.
• 0.2% said North Dakota.
• 1.0% said Oklahoma
• 0.4% said Oregon.
• 1.8% said Pennsylvania.
• 1.4% said South Carolina.
• 0.2% said South Dakota.
• 1.6% said Tennessee.
• 0.8% said Utah.
• 0.6% said Vermont.
• 0.6% said West Virginia.
• 1.8% said Wisconsin.

5. When asked, ‘What is your gender?'

• 48.9% said Male.
• 51.1% said Female.

6. When asked, ‘What is your current job title?'

• 9.5% said Business Owner.
• 2.4% said Partner.
• 4.6% said CXO (CEO, COO, CTO, etc.).
• 2.8% said VP.
• 11.3% said Director.
• 29.4% said Manager.
• 15.3% said Senior Level.
• 24.7% said Entry Level.

7. When asked, ‘Which industry do you currently work in?’

• 7.2% said Accounting.
• 5.4% said Banking.
• 6.6% said Business Services.
• 3.0% said Communications/Electronics.
• 6.8% said Computer Software.
• 4.4% said Construction.
• 6.0% said Education.
• 7.4% said Finance, Insurance & Real Estate.
• 6.6% said Government.
• 10.9% said Healthcare.
• 5.0% said Manufacturing.
• 3.8% said Non-profit.
• 4.6% said Telecommunications.
• 2.0% said Advertising/Public Relations.
• 1.6% said Aerospace.
• 1.0% said Agriculture.
• 0.8% said Airlines.
• 1.4% said Automotive.
• 0.2% said Beer, Wine & Liquor.
• 0.4% said Chemical.
• 1.6% said Clothing.
• 1.0% said Colleges, Universities & schools.
• 0.4% said Doctors & Other Health Professionals.
• 0.6% said Energy & Natural Resources.
• 2.2% said Entertainment.
• 0.2% said Farming.
• 2.6% said Food & Beverage.
• 0.6% said Hospitals.
• 2.4% said Legal.
• 0.4% said Mining.
• 1.2% said Pharmaceuticals/Health Products.
• 0.6% said Publishing & Printing.
• 0.6% said Restaurant.
• 0.4% said Waste Management.

How Employees Describe Their Office Cleanliness

Next, we had to discover how these offices were being cleaned. Were businesses hiring commercial cleaning services? Was there a regular janitorial service that came by? Understanding how and when offices were cleaned, we were able to paint a clearer picture of our respondents’ situations.

8. When asked, ‘Who cleans your office?’

• 6.4% said Our office manager.
• 43.3% said A commercial cleaning company.
• 46.3% said Janitor(s) employed by the company.
• 21.7% said Employees…when we have time.
• 4.4% said No one.

9. When asked, ‘Who controls cleaning decisions at the office?’

• 26.8% said CEO and/or Executive Team.
• 38.8% said Facility Manager.
• 29.4% said Office Manager.
• 5.0% said No one.

How Do Employees Describe Office Behavior?

It was important for us to understand how employees are affected by the behavior of their co-workers and what else goes on inside their office. We were surprised by some of the answers!

10. When asked, ‘Which working environment would you prefer?'

• 54.9% said Open concept so I can easily collaborate/share ideas.
• 45.1% said Individual office so I can concentrate in peace.

11. When asked, ‘Where do you do your best work?’

• 72.8% said At the office.
• 8.0% said Outside on a nice day.
• 4.0% said At a co-working station.
• 14.7% said When working from home.
• 0.06% said Other (any situation, around a warehouse, or customer service).

12. When asked, ‘Has there ever been conflict in the office over cleanliness or office temperature?’

• 56.7% said Yes.
• 43.3% said No.

13. When asked, ‘What are the top five most annoying things your co-workers do (choose five)?’

• 27.4% said Demanding a temperature that is too hot or too cold.
• 15.7% said Taking the last cup of coffee without starting a new pot.
• 11.1% said “forgetting” to take their Keurig pod out when done.
• 7.2% said “Forgetting” to refill the Keurig with water.
• 17.5% said Leaving coffee and/or water drips all over the counter.
• 26.4% said Leaving dishes in the office sink.
• 23.1% said Parking over the Line and taking two spots.
• 8.0% said Leaving the seat up in the bathroom.
• 29.2% said Leaving urine on the bathroom seat.
• 13.7% said “Forgetting” to replace the toilet paper.
• 7.8% said Putting the toilet paper on the wrong way.
• 25.6% said “Forgetting” to flush sufficiently or leave the toilet clogged.
• 11.5% said “Forgetting” to replace paper towels in the bathroom.
• 24.5% said Never washing their hands after using the bathroom.
• 10.9% said Making weird noises in the bathroom.
• 28.0% said Cooking smelly food (like fish) in the microwave.
• 34.8% said Leaving food in the fridge until it goes bad.
• 22.9% said Leaving food in the trash can that rots and stinks.
• 39.2% said Talking too loudly on the phone.
• 27.0% said Making a mess at their desk and leaving it in filthy condition.
• 5.8% said Bringing in gym bags reeking of sweat.
• 6.6% said Wearing, or leaving out, smelly gym clothes and sneakers.

14. When asked, ‘Have you ever considered confronting, or have you confronted, a colleague about the things that annoy you?’

• 56.9% said Yes.
• 43.5% said No.

15. When asked, ‘Do you have someone at your office who never washes their hands after using the bathroom?’

• 61.0% said Yes.
• 39.0% said No.

Employees Care About Office Kitchen Etiquette

The kitchen is a key part of any office. It’s where co-worker swap stories around the water cooler, find their much-needed coffee, and keep lunches and afternoon snacks. It’s no surprise that people feel strongly about how colleagues treat the kitchen.

16. When asked, ‘Should there be a policy banning fish and other smelly foods from the office today?’

• 54.3% said Yes.
• 45.7% said No.

17. When asked, ‘What should be the maximum amount of time anyone can leave food in the office fridge?’

• 30.0% said 24 hours or less.
• 33.6% said A few days.
• 29.6% said 1 week or less.
• 3.6% said No more than a month.
• 3.2% said I don’t care.

18. When asked, ‘What’s the nastiest thing you’ve found in the office fridge?’

• None.
• Week old pasta.
• I found a bandage on the floor.
• Don’t Know.
• I found a plate of sushi.
• Moldy food.
• Good.
• Spoiled milk.
• Not sure.
• Moldy juice.
• Food.
• Leftover shrimp.
• Very good.
• Leftovers.
• Spoiled salad.
• Curdled coffee creamer.
• Rotten tomatoes.
• Not sure. Something froze over and the fridge had to be defrosted to throw it out. It was moldy and black.
• Rotten plantains.
• Milk.

What Employees Consider Appropriate Work Behavior

Having a relationship where you can talk and share with your co-worker is important and contributes to a positive office culture. But how much is too much? A few people think their colleagues overshare about their personal lives. What some people are sharing with co-worker had us laughing and cringing!

19. When asked, ‘Have you ever considered a colleague an “over-sharer” (i.e. willing to tell you too much personal information, as in “my kid has a rash”)?’

• 69.8% said Yes.
• 30.2% said No.

20. When asked, ‘What’s the craziest thing you’ve been told by one of these ‘over-sharers”?’

• They don’t know.
• Good.
• About their sex life.
• Don’t Janis.
• Very good.
• Who’s having an affair.
• Not sure.
• Family.
• Food.
• Very Good.
• Been insulted by the husband.
• They had womanly problems.
• They were having an affair.
• Be polite.
• Yes.
• Health problems with co-worker’s family.

How Organization Affects Workflow

Some employees are not able to tolerate a dirty work desk, whereas others cannot function unless their area it an utter mess. Employees report back on how organization in the office affects their work ability.

21. When asked, ‘Do dirty or unorganized workspaces ever distract you or hamper your workflow?’

• 64.8% said Yes.
• 35.2% said No.

22. When asked, ‘Is the dirtiest, messiest person in your office a male or female?’

• 57.3% said Male.
• 42.7% said Female.

23. When asked, ‘Do your colleagues ever place their cell phone with their germs all over it on shared working spaces, or even your desk, when meeting with you?’

• 61.1% said Yes.
• 39.0% said No.

How the Habits of Co-worker Affect Work Ethic

Employees are easily distracted by more than conversations around the office. They’re also affected by the behavior of their colleagues. See some of the weirdest things people have seen their co-worker do.

24. When asked, ‘What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen happen at the office?’

• 17.9% said A co-worker working out (lifting weights, running, doing pushups, etc.) at the office.
• 22.5% said Co-workers getting intimate during office hours.
• 43.7% said A co-worker quitting and leaving abruptly in the middle of the day.
• 44.5% said A co-worker getting into a heated argument with a significant other during office hours.
• 7.2% said other:
• 2 people said None.
• 2 people said None of these.
• 2 people said Nothing.
• 1 person said A co-worker making an obscene gesture.
• 1 person said A peer on the phone while going to the bathroom.
• 1 person said Clipping Toenails.
• 1 person said Co-worker walking around chewing their food loud.
• 1 person said Co-worker getting into a heated argument with the department manager.
• 1 person said Co-worker sleeping on the floor under their desk.
• 1 person said Co-workers flirting with each other.
• 1 person said Co-worker leaving or doing what they please.
• 1 person said Crying co-worker.
• 1 person said Flossing their teeth at the desk and computer while using the keyboard.
• 1 person said Gossip.
• 1 person said Male co-worker dressed feminine.
• 1 person said Mostly just questionable behavior, a few co-workers who seemed like they had office affairs going on, that weren’t so secretive.
• 1 person said My boss jumping on top of his desk, dancing, and singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” when a client’s annoying employee quit.
• 1 person said None of the above.
• 1 person said Not really sure. I don’t usually talk with most of the employees on a daily basis.
• 1 person said Owner showing her breasts.
• 1 person said Poor clothing choices.
• 1 person said Pretty normal at my current job. Full of guys who will barely acknowledge you exist as you walk by in the hallway though.
• 1 person said Urinating in someone’s cube.
• 1 person said When people think it’s appropriate to bring their kids.
• 1 person said A co-worker cutting her toenails.
• 1 person said A gigantic animatronic elephant I thought was a real elephant.
• 1 person said A pigeon walking down the aisle.
• 1 person said Co-workers fighting with another co-worker.
• 1 person said Nerf war.
• 1 person said None.
• 1 person said Not sure.
• 1 person said Nothing comes to mind.

25. When asked, ‘Which of these “noise pollution” office problems are most disruptive to your productivity (choose three)?’

• 14.7% said Office mate on conference calls.
• 13.5% said Office mate on video calls.
• 30.8% said Office mate taking personal calls.
• 10.7% said Office mate hosting meetings in your office.
• 15.1% said Office mate talking to themselves at their desk.
• 36.6% said Colleagues laughing/making loud noises
• 20.7% said Colleagues playing music on speakers.
• 9.7% said Colleagues playing music in headphones.
• 14.5% said Colleagues clearing throat.
• 19.3% said Colleagues sneezing/coughing.
• 23.7% said Colleagues interrupting with questions.
• 36.2% said Colleagues interrupting with gossip/stories.

26. When asked, ‘Do any of the following colleague actions annoy, offend or distract you?’

• 35.2% said Wearing outfits that are too revealing/risqué.
• 50.5% said Wearing too much cologne/perfume.
• 41.7% said Letting their desk get dirty/disorganized.
• 37.2% said Bringing their morning routine into the office (flossing, doing makeup, curling hair, etc.).
• 10.3% said Receiving flowers and other gifts on special days.
• 19.7% said Decorating their desk with a ton of personal items (photos, awards, tchotchkes, etc.).

When is Your Office Too Dirty?

Spoiled food and dirty workspaces are just some of the many gross encounters that employees face every day. We had employees explain some of the grossest things that they have witnessed in their office.

27. When asked, ‘Have you ever seen bugs or rodents inside of the office?’

• 51.3% said Yes.
• 48.7% said No.

28. When asked, ‘Have you ever seen mold or mildew inside of the office?’

• 31.2% said Yes.
• 68.8% said No.

29. When asked, ‘What do you believe is the dirtiest, germiest place in the office?’

 10.3% said Kitchen.
 41.2% said Bathrooms.
 7.6% said Desks.
 22.3% said Keyboards.
 17.7% said Doorknobs.
 1.0% said other:
• 1 person said All of the above.
• 1 person said Bathroom.
• 1 person said Phone.
• 1 person said Central location phone receiver.
• 1 person said Cupboards.

30. When asked, ‘Do you use a paper towel or handkerchief to open doors because you think your office is unclean?’

• 51.3% said Yes.
• 48.7% said No.

31. When asked, ‘How often do you believe the bathrooms are cleaned in your office?’

• 61.2% said Once a day.
• 19.1% said Twice a week.
• 14.1% said Once a week.
• 2.4% said Twice a month.
• 2.8% said Once a month.
• 0.4% said Quarterly.

32. When asked, ‘Have you seen/heard a colleague throwing up at the office?’

• 41.2% said Yes.
• 58.8% said No.

33. When asked, ‘Did your office manager/cleaning partner do anything to sanitize the office afterwards.

• 72.0% said Yes.
• 28.0% said No.

34. When asked, ‘Are you allergic to dust?’

• 36.4% said Yes.
• 63.6% said No.

35. When asked, ‘Do you have an allergic reaction to overly powerful air fresheners and/or cleaning chemicals?’

• 37.0% said Yes.
• 63.0% said No.

The Importance of Cleanliness & Work Environment to Employees

The environment of an office is an important factor in how efficient your employees can be. We asked respondents how they like their office and what kind of environment works best for them.

36. When asked, ‘Would you ever consider taking a little less pay if you could have the office at what you believe is the perfect temperature and cleanliness level?'

• 32.0% said Yes.
• 68.0% said No.

37. When asked, ‘If you’re not comfortable with the cleanliness/temperature of your office, do you:’

• 53.5% said Speak Up.
• 30.0% said Suffer in Silence.
• 16.5% said Secretly change the temperature.

38. When asked, ‘Have you ever considered leaving your job, or have you ever quit a job, because the office was messy and unclean?’

• 23.5% said Yes.
• 76.5% said No.

39. When asked, ‘Have you ever considered leaving your job, or have you ever quit a job, because the office temperature was not the way you like it?’

• 18.3% said Yes.
• 81.7% said No.

40. When asked, ‘Has a clean and mindful office environment ever been the deciding factor when you accepted a new job?’

• 39.4% said Yes.
• 60.6% said No.

41. When asked, ‘How much is your productivity compromised by a dirty and/or disorganized office?’

• 12.1% said I can’t focus at all. It completely ruins my productivity.
• 27.6% said It’s a problem and makes my day a struggle, but I get the job done.
• 25.4% said Sometimes it’s a problem, just depends on the day.
• 24.9% said It bothers me occasionally, but only if it’s particularly bad.
• 9.9% said It doesn’t bother me at all.

42. When asked, ‘How much is your productivity compromised by noise and/or annoying colleagues?’

• 13.3% said I can’t focus at all. It completely ruins my productivity
• 27.8% said It’s a problem and makes my day a struggle, but I get the job done.
• 29.2% said Sometimes it’s a problem, just depends on the day.
• 22.9% said It bothers me occasionally, but only if it’s particularly bad.
• 6.8% said It doesn’t bother me at all.

How Outdoor Distractions Affect Workplace Productivity

Companies take pride in up keeping their businesses not only on the inside, but outside as well. Landscaping can be quite noisy though and greatly impact the flow of a quiet workplace.

43. When asked, ‘Do midday landscaping (mowing and blowing) and power washing projects distract you or hamper your workflow?’

• 35.4% said Yes.
• 64.6% said No.

44. When asked, ‘Have landscapers or power washers ever left grass on your car, nicked your car, or left a dent?’

• 28.8% said Yes.
• 71.2% said No.

45. When asked, ‘Did they apologize for the damages and help you repair your vehicle?’

• 51.0% said Yes.
• 49.0% said No.

Importance of Office Temperature

Employees all have different preferences when it comes to how they like their office. That’s one thing we learned when we ask them about effective office environments. See how some like it hot, while others are willing to go to war over it!

46. When asked, ‘What is your preferred temperature for your work environment?’

• 17.7% said 68 or below.
• 15.3% said 69.
• 30.4% said 70.
• 8.3% said 71.
• 14.9% said 72.
• 6.4% said 73.
• 7.0% said 74 or above.

47. When asked, ‘Please select the answer that fits you best- “I work best in a work environment that is…”’

• 22.9% said Warm.
• 4.8% said Hot.
• 67.0% said Cool.
• 5.4% said Cold.

48. When asked, ‘If the work environment is too cold, which statements best describe your reaction?’

 24.5% said Sit and Suffer.
 28.1% said Wrap up in a blanket.
 64.0% said Put on a coat/jacket.
 43.9% said Grab a coffee or tea to warm up.
 27.3% said Change the temperature.
 3.6% said other:
• 1 person said I have a small heater in my office.
• 1 person said Suggest adjusting the temp.
• 1 person said Speak up.
• 1 person said Turn on my space heater.
• 1 person said Use space heater.

49. When asked, ‘If the work environment is too hot, which statement best describes your reaction?’

o 12.9% said Sit and Suffer.
o 53.6% said Turn on the fan.
o 47.8% said Drink a cold drink to cool off.
o 36.0% said Remove clothing/roll up sleeves.
o 43.1% said Change the temperature.
o 2.7% said other:
 2 people said Complain.
 1 person said Get enough others to agree so we can influence facilities to drop the temperature.
 1 person said I also get extremely annoyed; I can’t stand heat.
 1 person said Open my window.
 1 person said Say something.
 1 person said Speak up.
 1 person said Turn on the AC if it’s off.
 1 person said Take a walk.
 1 person said Talk to office manager

50. When asked, ‘Have you ever change the temperature without permission?’

• 47.9% said Yes.
• 52.1% said No.

51. When asked, ‘Have you ever persuaded the person in charge of the office thermostat to set the temperature the way you like it?’

• 53.7% said Yes.
• 46.3% said No.

Bringing the Gym to Work

A long day behind a desk can leave employees feeling lazy. Many employees try to engage in some sort of physical activity when they can. Staying active and healthy is important. In fact, many workplaces encourage it. Still, it’s never fun when the smell of the gym makes it way into the office. See what these respondents said about their sweaty coworkers.

52. When asked, ‘Do any of your colleagues work out and return to the office during work hours?’

• 43.7% said Yes.
• 56.3% said No.

53. When asked, ‘What work out activity are they doing on their breaks?’

• 30.6% said Running.
• 65.2% said Walking.
• 28.8% said Lifting at the gym.
• 11.5% said Playing a sport.
• 8.0% said Swimming.
• 12.3% said Other.

54. When asked, ‘Do they, or their clothes/shoes, sometimes smell bad when they return?’

• 35.4% said Yes.
• 64.6% said No.

55. When asked, ‘Do colleagues ever leave gym clothes/shoes in a shared public space at work?’

• 28.6% said Yes.
• 71.4% said No.

56. When asked, ‘If yes, does this sometimes annoy you?’

• 54.9% said Yes, because I don’t like the smell.
• 42.4% said Yes, because it’s not sanitary.
• 31.9% said Yes, because I just don’t like to look at it.
• 11.8% said No, because it doesn’t ever bother me.

57. When asked, ‘Have you ever seen colleagues exercise at their desk or in places in work other than a gym?’

• 32.6% said Yes.
• 67.4% said No.

58. When asked, ‘If yes, what do they do at their desk and public workplaces?’

 47.0% said Pushups.
 52.4% said Stretches.
 27.4% said Weightlifting.
 33.5% said Walk or jog.
 15.9% said Jump rope.
 15.9% said Jumping jacks.
 36.6% said squats.
 26.2% said lunges.
 6.1% said other:
• 3 people said Yoga.
• 1 person said Cycle.
• 1 person said Desk cycle.
• 1 person said Nothing.
• 1 person said Step machine.
• 1 person said We regularly do all of this. We have daily push up challenges. Is this supposed to be a bad thing?
• 1 person said Riding a stationary bike.
• 1 person said Twisting in chair.

59. When asked, ‘What’s the strangest exercise you’ve seen a colleague do in the office?’

• Very good.
• Run hard.
• Good.
• Skipping rope.
• “skull crusher.”
• Yes.
• None.
• Lap stretch vertically.
• Burpees.
• Weight lighting.
• I don’t know.
• Sit ups on the chair.
• Not applicable.
• Running machine.
• Neck lifts.
• Pull ups on the door frame.
• I can’t remember.

60. When asked, ‘How do you feel about colleagues exercising in the office?’

• 24.1% said Don’t like it because it’s annoying.
• 34.6% said Don’t like it because it’s distracting.
• 18.1% said Don’t like it because it’s smelly and sweaty.
• 42.7% said Don’t mind it.

61. When asked, ‘Have you ever been distracted by colleagues taking off their shoes or other clothing at the office?’

• 37.2% said Yes.
• 62.8% said No.

Are gross employee habits threatening to tear your office apart? It might be time to consider bringing in the pros! Commercial cleaning services like those from the professionals at Stratus Building Solutions can keep your office looking good and feeling great so employees can focus on work, not someone’s smelly shoes or dirty dishes!

All statistics drawn from the full survey commissioned by Stratus Building Solutions, which can be found here: Survey Says: What Commercial Cleaning Data Shows About Office Employees