6 Annoying Office Habits that Drive Your Colleagues Crazy

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Washing your coffee cup after you’re done is the obvious thing to do – but there’s always that one colleague who just doesn’t get it.

They would leave their used cups in the sink, let it sit for days until a neat freak comes along and cleans it for them.

I was that neat freak.

We didn’t have a cleaner in our previous workplace. Everyone had to wash their own cups, throw their trash, and vacuum their own workstations. All of us took care of our messes except my colleague, a grown ass man in his thirties.

Naturally, I complained about him. It got to a point where my colleagues unanimously said, “Just ignore his damn cup”.

I tried, I really did.

Once, I resisted for four days until I saw a baby cockroach swimming in his diluted Nescafe. I immediately lost it and scrubbed the hell out of that cup. Despite how annoying it was, I did it because I couldn’t stand the sight of a mess.

Do you know what else drives a colleague crazy?

1. Leaving a mess in the pantry

I can hear a chorus of ‘Amen’ from every neat freak in the world because it’s true. Leaving a mess is annoying, especially in a common space like an office.

Not only did my colleague had an issue with his cup, but he also had this irritating habit of leaving a mess everywhere. Whenever he’s around, there would be empty coffee sachets, seasoning dust, and Maggi packets all over the place. It was an eyesore!

The dustbin was right there, sitting in the corner and waiting to be filled. But nope, he treated our common pantry like his mother would come in to clean up after him. Seriously, is it really that hard to do? Throwing your trash into the bin? It’s so simple even a kid can do it.

Guess what’s worse than someone leaving a mess?

2. Stealing food from the common fridge

I remember working with a PR manager who only functions on diet Coke on stressful days. Whenever she steps out for a smoke, she would swing by the sundry shop, grab a few cans and stock up the office’s fridge.

Since its common logic not to steal someone else’s food and drinks from the fridge, she didn’t label it. No one in the office did.

One fine Monday, she marched up to me and said, “Someone just stole my diet Coke from the fridge! Do you know who took it?” I shook my head and asked my other deskmates if they saw anyone who did.

When nobody owned up to it, she blasted an angry email to the entire company (my bosses included) and warned everyone never to repeat it again.

“It’s my fucking Coke! Whoever stole my Coke will fucking pay for it later.”

Even though she got a warning letter for the profanity, it worked. Out of guilt, someone secretly placed a new Diet Coke on her table the next day.

Do you know what else is annoying?

3. Assigning office housekeeping to female colleagues

We really need to talk about this.

Why are female employees always assigned to the office’s housekeeping duties? You know, things like cleaning up after an office potluck or throwing away the pizza boxes after a party?

Judging from my office experience, it’s often the neat freaks or female friends who stayed back with a wiping cloth in hand while everyone bolts to their desk.

One time, my CEO had a meeting with an important investor. Everyone was out (including his personal assistant), which left me and four other male colleagues in the office.

Guess who my CEO chose to prepare coffee for his investor?

That’s right, me.

While everyone else was tapping away on their phones, I had to stop whatever I was doing to make that damn coffee. This happened many times.

Why are these tasks commonly given to female employees? For me, it’s a troubling observation and I hope we can all be extra helpful with housekeeping duties next time, regardless of gender stereotypes.

Okay, are you ready for another annoying habit?

4. Playing music out loud

Every workspace has a colleague who behaves like a self-appointed DJ. Their daily goals include keeping the office lively and exciting, which is fine except…

Some people actually prefer silence.

Back in the days, we had a notorious party guy. He was incredibly fun and definitely the life of the party (or office). However, he had this annoying preference for playing heart-thumping music at the wrong time.

Loud music is perfect for a Friday night but not after a Monday meeting.

Whenever our office is nice and quiet he would say, “The office is so quiet lah dei. Why is everyone so serious?”

Then, he would blast the loudest, ear-bleeding club music from his playlist. Within a split second, our office transformed into an Alan Walker set at Ultra Singapore.

Sometimes, we’ll get our way when we tell him to keep it down. Most of the time, he continues to play unless we promise to be chatty and not hung up with work.

If you think that was an annoying habit, I have another one.

5. Adjusting the room temperature to their liking

Air-conditioned spaces are the best working environment for most Malaysians. I used the word ‘most’ because I know a few of people who hate being cold. Like this colleague of mine who loathes it despite being raised in the coldest country in the world – Russia.

Back then, my Russian colleague and I would always go back and forth with the air-con remote. Since we each have different preferences, we couldn’t find the right temperature that pleased both of us. To him, 28 degree Celsius is cold. To me, turning off the air-con is ridiculous.

I suggested a solution which could fix everything.

“How about you wear a sweater? It’ll keep you warm and we don’t have to adjust the temperature all the time”. He stubbornly refused.

Besides hating the cold, he dislikes wearing sweaters too. What the heck?

This went on until his last day of employment. That was the only day when I let him turn off the air-con whenever he likes.

Okay guys, here’s the final one.

6. Behaving like a self-appointed boss

Oh, you know this one.

When your manager is out of town or a supervisor is on maternity leave, there will be a colleague who steps up and appoints themselves as the new sheriff in town. They’re probably a rank higher than the rest or equal to most, but this self-appointed boss loves to be in charge

Behind their backs, we would call them ‘supervisor’, ‘headmaster’ or ‘office police’.

Since there are no higher-ups to supervise the office, they enjoy implementing law and order for as long as they can. For them, it was a golden opportunity to demonstrate leadership and responsibility in front of the HR lady.

Another thing about a self-appointed boss? They always have something to say.

When you arrive late for work, mess up the pantry or steal someone else’s food from the fridge, they always share their two cents. “Hah, you’re late for work today” or “Seriously got dustbin also don’t know how to use ah?”

They’re such an annoying character. Come to think of it, who gives them the authority to boss us around when the boss is not around?

Self-appointed bosses are everywhere, and you might have chanced upon them.

If you happened to work with a ‘supervisor’ in a start-up in Petaling Jaya between 2015 to 2017, that person might be me.

So yeah.

Why were you late for work today?

For more articles like this, read 5 Types of Personalities You’ll Meet in the Workplace, and How to Deal with Them, and Career Trends in Malaysia – What’s Popular Today?

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After being raised on a steady diet of chic flicks and Mum's spaghetti, I've decided to do the things I love most. So I bade farewell to my desk job, moved back in with my parents, and started my freelancing career. You can either wish me luck or read how I'm coping with taxes and annoying aunties on In Real Life.
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