Annoying office habits

8 annoying office habits every office worker will know

Working in an office, big or small, means you’re bound to come across some of those annoying office habits that everyone always talks about. If you haven’t noticed anyone doing any of the following things, then chances are you’re probably the person with some of these habits. So what are the worst office habits that we encounter during our working week?

annoying office habits infographic


Where’s all the stationery gone? This can be extremely inconvenient for others. Use a designated stationery space/area to avoid things getting lost.

They’ve got three staplers for some reason, and at least 15 pens despite needing approximately one. While this may not be a problem every day, there will be a time when you need to use a stapler, or a pair of scissors, and you won’t be able to find them because your colleague is running his or her own stationery department from their desk. Not only can this be frustrating, it can prevent people from completing their work on time. Designate a stationery area in the office, so everybody knows where everything is when they need it.

Phone notifications

We don’t need to hear every text message you receive! Having phones on silent mode in the office should be a must.

When you’re trying to work, and you’re finally in ‘the zone’, the last thing you want to hear is the constant pinging of somebody’s phone. You don’t need to know they’ve received a text/Tweet/email/eBay bid/, and it can be incredibly distracting and annoying when you’re trying to get work done. All that needs to happen is for phones to be set on ‘silent’ mode - maybe even turn the vibrate function off if you’re feeling extra helpful.


It can be tempting to gossip but it’s not nice to be gossiped about. Keep secrets secret!

There’s always a person in every workplace who seems to hear every conversation and see everything that goes on at work and at work parties/events. It can be very tempting to share the latest bit of gossip that you’ve heard, but keep in mind it can be very harmful to people, and it may not even be true in the first place. Keep it to yourself and save yourself, and the subject(s) of your gossip a lot of hassle.

Related article: The business cost of ignoring workplace bullying


Work can be dull. We get it. But constant complaining can bring others down. Maintaining a happy work atmosphere can help!

Everybody has days at work where they would rather be literally anywhere else. However, what your colleagues don’t need is to constantly hear about how tired you are, how stressed you are, or how much you don’t want to be in the office. Not only can it become tiresome after a while, it can also bring the morale down amongst your colleagues, so try and maintain a positive attitude at work. The office itself can help here - adequate break space, a tidy workstation, comfy chairs and even eye-friendly office design can work wonders for people’s spirits.

Odious food

No, it doesn’t smell good. You might think it does, but it doesn’t. Not to everyone else. Eating foods with strong aromas away from desks will put an end to this issue.

Nobody, and we mean nobody, needs to smell your tuna and sweetcorn casserole while they’re trying to eat their own lunch. We’re fairly sure the person who’s eating the casserole doesn’t even want to smell it. It may seem like a somewhat trivial complaint, but particularly pungent food can be unpleasant for people and put them off their lunch or their work. If you don’t have a rule in your office about eating at your desk, maybe make an exception for those meals with strong smells.

Related article: Are you snack happy? Reach for these next time

Bad hygiene

A very sensitive issue, but it can be distracting for others. It’s important that this issue is approached carefully - a private chat with the individual concerned will help. Don’t broadcast it!

This is double trouble in some ways, because not only is bad hygiene unpleasant and somewhat anti-social, it can be very difficult to let someone know they have bad hygiene without offending them. You simply cannot say “sorry, but can you please have a wash in the mornings?” - that is rude and unnecessary, and potentially embarrassing for the person you’re talking to. The best way to deal with this situation is to talk to them privately and sensitively - don’t come across as unnecessarily authoritative, or make the person feel as if they’ve committed a major crime - just a friendly word of advice should do the trick.

Related article: Is poor office hygiene costing you staff attendance?


Incredibly annoying at the best of times. Make a big sign that clearly states whistling is a sackable offence. Or just have a quiet word with those concerned.

The first thing you need to remember here is it is likely that the person whistling is probably not doing it because they enjoy it. Yes, it is incredibly annoying and no, there is no tune in the world that can be whistled in such a way that makes said whistling pleasing to the ears, but it is often something people do absent-mindedly. The same goes for tapping pens on desks - just give the person a quiet nudge and ask them politely to stop. Or stare at them until they do.

Being late

People should be avoiding this anyway, but a warning or two, or stricter warnings for repeat offenders (without a good excuse for being late) is the best course of action. Working hours are in place for a reason!

Being late once every so often is entirely forgivable. It happens to everyone, often through no fault of their own - traffic, train/bus problems, car breakdowns, oversleeping (okay, the last one is somewhat preventable). However, people who are constantly late to work are being unprofessional and letting their colleagues down. There may already be sanctions in place for constant lateness, but a warning should be enough to get them to start checking their watch more. If the problem continues, then escalating the severity of the warnings is the next step to take.

Related article: How to discipline employees who are late

Above are just some of the most annoying office habits that everyone who’s ever worked in an office can relate to. Nobody is perfect, and we all have little quirks and things we do that are likely to annoy others, but these are just a few that crop up frequently. They’re not major, but they are annoying, and luckily they can be solved/prevented easily and without any conflict.

Myhrtoolkit is an HR software system that is designed to bring total efficiency to HR tasks, saving valuable time and helping to make staff management easier for all involved. If you would like to know more about us, please get in touch with us today and we will be more than happy to help you with anything you need.

Picture of Fiona Sanderson

Written by Fiona Sanderson

Fiona is Marketing Manager at myhrtoolkit. Her areas of expertise include HR systems, productivity, employment law updates, and creating HR infographics.

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