The end of the office tea round? 'Gross' workplace habits UK employees want banned

·4 min read
Could this be the end of the office tea round? (Getty Images)
Could this be the end of the office tea round? (Getty Images)

The traditional office tea round could soon be a thing of the past, as employees have revealed the habits they want banned from the workplace post-COVID, as they now consider them "gross". 

Yep, the coronavirus pandemic may well have put an end to the morning stand-off, waiting to see which of your colleagues will crack first and stick the kettle on for the bumper group round. 

And that's not the only change workers want to see in the post-COVID world. 

Failing to wash hands after a visit to the bathroom, heading into work with a cough or cold, and air kissing your co-worker are other workplace habits that UK employees want to see banned, according to a poll by instantprint.

The survey revealed that workers are particularly anxious about office activities relating to food and drink, with the sharing of snacks (16%) the communal tea-round (16%) and storing food in the workplace fridge overnight (16%) all habits some are keen to bid farewell to.

Read more: You're more likely to get pregnant if your work colleagues already are

Hugging is on the office no, no list. (Getty Images)
Hugging is on the office no, no list. (Getty Images)

It seems the pandemic has made us question other workplace behaviours too, with 28% claiming they no longer want to hug their colleagues.

While lunchtime trips to the gym could soon return, workers are keen to ensure grubby gym kits are kept well away from the office with 27% claiming this is a no-no in terms of office etiquette. 

Understandably, tolerance is at an all-time low and any bad habits we may have turned a blind eye to in the past - such as pen chewing (25%) and sitting on co-workers’ desks (19%) - featured on the list of new workplace no-nos.

Whilst hugs and air kisses between colleagues may have been considered somewhat risky even pre-COVID, the survey highlighted that (high-five 23%), fist bumps (18%) and handshakes (17%) are also now off the cards too.

Watch: Can the self-employed teach us lessons about remote work?

With strict hygiene and social distancing guidance still in place in the UK, it isn't surprising that four in 10 (41%) people stated they’d now be quick to call out colleagues on the workplace habits they deemed to be “gross”.

Men were found to be the least tolerant, with 45% claiming they’d be likely to pull someone up on their bad habits, compared with just 37% of women.

Interestingly, however, women (39%) were more likely than men (33%) to have found bad habits unsavoury prior to the pandemic. 

It seems lockdown has provided something of a wake-up call for male workers, with 13% more (46%) admitting they are now more aware of the “gross behaviour” of their colleagues, compared to an increase of just 6% amongst their female colleagues (45%).

A previous poll, by Umovis Lab, uncovered some other unsavoury office behaviours workers expected to be outlawed post-COVID, including hot-desking, preparing lunch in the communal kitchen and no longer signing birthday cards which are passed around the office.  

Read more: 5 products to make working from home more comfortable

Workers are particularly keen for their colleagues to wash their hands. (Getty Images)
Workers are particularly keen for their colleagues to wash their hands. (Getty Images)

Read more: Starting the day with chocolate helps post-menopausal women burn fat

While we might not be happy about our colleagues' unsavoury office behaviours, actually calling them out on it can be tricky.

Sean Kachmarski, in-house trainer at instantprint, has put together some top tips for challenging particularly unpleasant habits in the workplace.

Be upbeat

When you address an issue with a colleague, you should always keep it positive. "Instead of demanding that Steve goes and washes his hands after he’s been to the toilet, ask whether he’d like to get washed up in the kitchen together before lunch, or offer him some hand sanitiser – which is often the next best thing," Kachmarski suggests.

Take control of your own space

Even if you can’t influence what your colleagues are doing, you can have a say about what’s happening in your space (AKA your desk). "That includes being able to frequently wipe down your keyboard and mouse with antibacterial wipes and using hand sanitiser," Kachmarski says.

Talk to your boss

If your colleague’s behaviour is getting really out of control, it might be worth having your boss support you. "They’ll have either been trained or have experience in setting boundaries for their team, meaning it might be more appropriate to go to the manager rather than tackling this off your own back," Kachmarski adds.

Additional reporting SWNS.

Watch: How to get your coffee fix while working from home. 

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting