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Anna Duggal
Anna Duggal
  • 4 Minute Read
  • 04th April 2014

Annoying office habits and how to control them

Working in an office can be motivating, fun and offer a social aspect to your work. It helps you feel like part of a team and helps set apart your home and work life. Often though, we do things or see others do things that grate on us.

Below, we’ve collated the top 10 things we and our colleagues do that rub people up the wrong way and we’ve offered some hints and tips to help you cope with them!

For yourself:

Not taking breaks

We all fall into a trap of taking on too much work but not admitting it to the boss. Then we start to decide it’s easier to eat lunch at the computer and stay an hour after everyone else leaves. Stop this now! Not having a break and looking at the computer for such a long time is bad for many areas of your health – your eyes, your energy levels, your mood, your waistline and your productivity. See our blog with tips on how to keep your energy up at work.

Office politics

Gossip may seem fun, interesting and a way to bond with colleagues, but it is a slippery slope into rumours, arguments and bullying. Stay out of other people’s problems; be sympathetic but never say anything you wouldn’t want to be quoted on. If you have a problem, talk directly to your manager, instead of letting it escalate with gossip, otherwise you risk becoming the bully.

Getting overwhelmed

We all get stressed from time to time or crack under pressure but, if it is happening regularly, it’s a problem and you need to discuss your workload or time management with your manager. Also, make sure you think of how your stress is affecting those around you. Are you making others on edge? Are you affecting their productivity with your stress chatter? Be considerate and if you need help, ask, instead of emitting steam from your ears!

Being conscientious of others’ time

We are all guilty of interrupting our team, rattling out questions or demands before we’ve even checked if they are currently preoccupied. Your colleagues will appreciate your effort to take their workload into account so take time to acknowledge this before having a loud natter about the weather, interrupting them or giving them other tasks to do.

On the phone

It happens and we can’t help having phone conversations but having an extended conversation with a client about what they did at the weekend or their childcare issues will make you public enemy number one (especially if, unbeknown to you, you’re one of those people who raises the volume of your voice on the phone to compensate for distance). Be considerate of others and they will respect you more and return the favour in their own actions.


From others:

Negativity to… everything

There is always a ‘voice of doom’ in the team, usually the same character who likes the last word and is never shy to voice their opinion. From that one corner of the room fly comments such as, “that won’t be done on time” or “let’s not think about that”. But for every negative person, all you need is one positive person to encourage the team with praise for new projects, encourage their productivity and help the process along with a tea round and some biscuits.


When people decide to have personal conversations at the next desk, have their music playing loud enough that you don’t need headphones to catch the lyrics and have loud, personal phone conversations in or around the office; it can become irritating. If you feel comfortable enough, ask them politely to try not to do it and explain calmly how it affects your work. Do this when the rest of your team and manager are in the room and it can’t become an argument or be construed incorrectly. Otherwise, speak directly to your manager and explain what the problem is and how it affects your work, without going off topic.

Personal space issues

Some people are a little friendlier than others. Who knows the correct protocol with hugs, standing proximity and pats on the back but it all depends on the office you work in and the people you work with. If you are a friendlier character, recognise and stop it if people look uncomfortable with your proximity or actions. If you personally don’t like it, be polite but don’t be scared to move a step back if someone is too close to you or make it obvious you aren’t comfortable. The longer you work with people, the more you learn what’s acceptable or not.


The workplace is like a college shared house: you can’t make people clean their space but you have to see and put up with it. Why not try, as the old saying goes, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’, by purchasing communal cleaning equipment and telling all the team about it, putting the thought in their head and the equipment within their grasp.

Blurring the time restraints of ‘9-5’

When you see team members arriving late regularly or taking a growing number and length of breaks, it can be disheartening, especially if you are working hard and playing by the rules. Some might say, this doesn’t directly affect you, but it’s hard not to start blurring the lines yourself and taking an ‘extended’ break if you feel they are getting away with it - but don’t! You don’t know who might be monitoring their situation, so mention it to your boss if you feel it may have escaped their notice and then leave them to it, and concentrate on your work.

Do they sound like some of the things going on in your office? The quicker we accept them, find a solution and get the thought out of our head, the better our working life will become and the higher our productivity will be. Try some of the tips and see if they help you and your workplace attitude!