The office break room is a necessary and loved part of any workspace. It provides a space to unwind, a (hopefully) endless supply of coffee, and a microwave to heat up leftovers from last night’s dinner.
But, it can turn into a source of stress and complaints. Fortunately, all these complaints are easy to avoid.
The breakroom often serves as the office kitchen and dining area complete with a microwave, sink, and table. And where there is food, there are messes.
Apparently, not everyone learned how to clean up after themselves, so these messes sometimes remain for more than a few minutes. Before long, there’s exploded leftovers in the microwave and dishes in the sink.
To keep things clean, just pick up after yourself! When you make a mess, clean it up. And encourage others to pitch in and clean up after themselves as well.
It’s not a bad idea to assign a weekly cleaning of communal areas. A quick ten-minute wipe down of the counters and sweeping of the floor can do wonders for the breakroom’s cleanliness.
Refrigerators are like a maze for food; not everything that enters makes it way out. This space should be a temporary holding area used to keep food for a few days. However, that’s not always the case.
Sometimes food gets pushed to the back and forgotten. Before long, it starts growing mold and stinking up the whole room. And the worst part is, nobody will admit the item is theirs.
There are some easy ways to avoid this. Try to remove all the food you put in the fridge within a few days or before it goes bad.
Also, have everyone in your office label everything they put in the fridge. When there’s a moldy sandwich in the back, the name on the bag will clarify who has to clean it up. Labeling food also prevents people from taking food that isn’t theirs.
Often, offices provide communal items including silverware, soda, and coffee. When someone goes to grab something, it’s disappointing when it’s not there.
If someone takes the last of something, it’s their job to replace it. Take the last of the coffee? Make a new pot. Use the last clean fork? Wash the others sitting in the sink.
Some communal items are ordered by an office manager and take some time to replace. Therefore, if you seem something running low, alert the manager before it runs out.
It’s called a breakroom for a reason. When people are taking their lunch or a midday break, they probably don’t want to talk about work.
Luckily, there are so many other topics to talk about! Ask about plans for the weekend, how the family is doing, or upcoming vacations.
If people know they need to talk about work over lunch, it’s wise to consider moving the conversation somewhere besides the breakroom. Sometimes lunch meetings are necessary, but they don’t have to include the whole office.