Six Office Break Room Rules To Live By

Working in an office poses many challenges, not the least of which is how to get along smoothly with co-workers, especially in the wild and woolly world of the office break room. While it is not always simple, keep in mind these six office break-room rules to live by.

  1. Don't eat someone else's food from the break-room refrigerator or pantry. It may look delicious. It may appear lonely and in need of your attention-but don't do it. That leftover meatloaf sandwich is not for you. Skip it, and have a cup of coffee while you think about getting up a bit earlier tomorrow to make your own lunch.
  2. Clean up after yourself. You may have a spouse or paid assistant at home to do this for you, but this is work. The break room does not clean itself. If you set a good example, others will soon follow suit, and you all will benefit from a tidy, appetizing space to relax, cook and eat.
  3. Offer a hand. That may mean cleaning up after others. Sure someone else should have rinsed off the knife, but they didn't. You never know: Your boss may see you being a good Samaritan and reward you one day.
  4. The definition of break room is: a room for a break-not another place to work. The sanctity of the break room must be maintained at all costs. Keep the work talk out. Nobody wants to take a break from work to talk about work. It is important for most people to take a moment away from the office madness, to unwind and gain a bit of perspective with a wedge of cheesecake. So let them be. You may need just such a kindness one day.
  5. Make a fresh pot of coffee if the current pot is low. Nothing is worse than an empty coffee pot at 3 p.m. If you've filled your cup, topped it off, and gone back for the last drop, set up a new pot for the next guy. Your co-workers will love you for it, and perhaps you'll even make an ally for the next board meeting.
  6. Don't maul communal food. If you don't want the whole cupcake, ask a co-worker to split it. If you've ever worked extra diligently while happily looking forward to a bit of Bob's leftover birthday cake and found a disgusting, half eaten bit of pastry next to a crumpled up napkin, you will know how important it is to follow this break-room rule vigilantly.

If you stay true to these six office break-room rules to live by, you will minimize any potential conflict. Showing your courtesy in the most relaxed areas at the office will impress your co-workers and your boss. Who knows? It could even provide the tipping point at review time.

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