The average office kitchen inspires more controversy and conflict among employees than almost any other work-related topic. It’s a long-standing tradition that someone makes a big mess in the office kitchen – at least once a week – and scurries away without cleaning it up. Forgotten lunches languish in the refrigerator, becoming creepy science experiments. Other pet peeves include empty coffee pots returned to the burner and popcorn, burnt in the microwave. And what office kitchen would be complete without the ubiquitous 10th generation copy of the “Your mother doesn’t work here…” meme, taped above the sink?
Set Some Rules
Enlist your staff to compile a set of kitchen rules and put them into place. Soliciting employee input gives you greater buy-in, increasing the chances it may actually stick. Print them out, preferably in the Comic Sans font, and tape them around the kitchen. Make it light-hearted and explain that, because nobody really wants to clean up after anyone else, we should probably ALL act like adults. Have fun with punishments for rule-breaking too. The owner of the next forgotten lunch to grow mold buys pizza for the office.
Spread the Responsibility Around
Name one employee to be in charge of the kitchen each month (or each week if you have a large staff). This way, each person gets a taste of how it feels to have to clean up after his or her coworkers, and one poor soul isn’t stuck with the responsibility interminably. Pass around a sign-up sheet and ask everyone to choose a month/week, then post it in the kitchen as a reminder. Draft a list of duties that goes with the kitchen monitor gig, such as refilling paper towel dispensers, ordering supplies, wiping down sink and counters, keeping a pot of coffee going, etc.
Dealing With the “Food Stealer”
There’s always one. Sometimes it’s a self-entitled manager; sometimes it’s an absent-minded accountant who forgets he’s not at home. Either way, it really stinks to have your lunch swiped. If it becomes a serial event, call a staff meeting and shame the perp for wasting everyone’s time. Tape a guilt-inducing sign to the refrigerator door. As a last resort, mount an inexpensive, fake video camera above the ‘fridge and inform the employees that the area now, unfortunately, has to be monitored for thievery.
The office kitchen can be a sore spot for many companies. Have a little fun with it, and maybe you will find that it’s not so much of a problem after all.