Frustrated employee banging her head against her desk

Workers reveal their biggest pet peeves about colleagues and the workplace

Elizabeth Bromstein|

What are your biggest pet peeves about your workplace? Being copied on emails that have nothing to do with you? People using your mug? Those blasted pen chewers?

A new survey of U.K. office workers revealed their biggest complaints about their colleagues and working environment.

The top 50 complaints included the above, plus air conditioning making the office too cold, broken down elevators, and the “water cooler being too far away.”

There were a lot of gripes about colleagues, of course, and these included but weren’t limited to smelly people, loud talkers, singers, boasters, and shirkers. And let’s not forget lunch stealers. (It’s disconcerting, isn’t it, that people actually steal other people’s food at work? I think this sort of activity probably points to mental illness, and yet, lunch stealers are out there, lurking in many an office).

The survey of 2,000 workers contains a selection of amusingly trivial gripes and was conducted by animal welfare organization The Brooke, to mark World Donkey Week and to highlight the fact that common office complaints are nothing compared to what working donkeys are put through on a daily basis.

A quarter of people said they hate it when coworkers come in late and leave early, and one in ten hate it when people sing all day.

One in five said the most annoying trait a colleague could possess is never admitting they are wrong. Making a “drama out of everything” was also high on the list of peeves.

The top 20 traits of most annoying colleagues:

    Blames everyone for mistakes
    Come in late and go early
    Never admit being wrong
    Makes a drama out of everything
    Sucks up to the boss
    Take credit for others’ work
    Make personal calls
    Criticises everyone behind their back
    Never make a tea round
    Hand over complicated work
    Never listens when you talk to them
    Takes time off sick with minor ailments
    Whistle all day
    Sing all day
    Has poor personal hygiene
    Have earphones plugged in all day
    Never chip in for birthday presents
    Get drunk at office parties
    Books up all the school holidays first
    Always calls you when you are on holiday

Also on the list are people who “sniff,” who go on all day about their diets, and who don’t replace the toilet paper. As for those who don’t like us boasting about our children, you’re just jealous because my kid is a talented genius and yours isn’t. You should be more gracious in the face of defeat.

There are a couple of tea-related gripes, the survey being British. These include the company buying cheap, low-quality teabags and workers shirking their turn to make the hot drink.

More serious issues were about lack of pay raises, poor wages, not being appreciated, and heavy workloads.

Another annoyance was people who use the term “blue sky thinking,” which I had never heard before and suspect might be a U.K. thing.

A spokesperson for The Brooke said, “We can all relate to the grumbles in this list.

“Being copied in to emails that don’t concern you or having your computer crash when you’re finishing some important work can be the peak of frustration for U.K. workers. But these aren’t called ‘first-world’ problems for nothing. Our research brings home the fact that no matter how annoying our work life can be, it doesn’t compare with the hardship suffered by working animals around the world today.

“While we complain that our offices are too cold, there are horses and donkeys slaving away in 60 degree heat without the luxury of medical insurance or hourly tea breaks. A heavy work load for working donkeys is carrying half their own body weight on their back all day long to help their owners earn a modest living.

“These survey results show that in the grand scheme of things, we don’t have it that bad. World Donkey Week reminds us how tough working conditions can really be.”

According to The Brooke, which works with communities to help promote understanding of the welfare needs of working animals, there are over 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules in the world.

See more information about the survey and The Brooke here.

Top 50 worker’s complaints

    Being copied in to emails that aren’t relevant to me
    The phone ringing at one minute to 5pm
    Computer crashing
    Air con making the office too cold
    The printer breaking down
    Colleagues that smell of BO
    Loud telephone voices
    People chatting too much
    People not cleaning the microwave after use
    People sniffing
    People reading emails over your shoulder
    Running out of toilet roll and not replacing it
    Colleagues not saying thanks when you hold the door open for them
    People with bad breath
    Anyone that says ‘blue sky thinking’
    Inconsiderate parking
    Co-workers’ smelly lunches
    Uncomfortable chair
    Those that book school holidays off really far in advance
    Your boss catching you on Facebook for one minute when you have been manic all day
    Your company blocking you from certain websites
    People in the car park blocking you in
    The company providing cheap teabags
    Colleagues moaning about personal life
    Co-workers who constantly boast about their children
    Diet bores who constantly talk about their food
    Colleagues that are younger than you telling you what to do
    People pinching your lunch out of the fridge
    Those that leave empty wrappers in the tin of sweets
    Incessant birthday cake and sweet treats
    The vending machine stealing your money
    Colleagues not making tea
    Colleagues using work phones row with their partner
    Someone using your mug
    No one refilling the stapler
    Co-workers who constantly text at their desk
    Queuing for the microwave
    Co-workers who leave at 5 on the dot
    Colleagues leaving the toilet seat up
    The lift breaking down
    Not enough plug sockets
    Fire alarm going off when you’re on the phone
    Colleagues describing their dreams in exact detail when they come in
    Colleagues singing
    People who chew pens
    Having to stretch over desks to answer a colleague’s phone
    Clients turning up early for meetings
    People not chatting enough
    People forever stealing your favourite pen
    The water cooler being too far away


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Category: Industry News & Insights, Management,
 
  • Sam

    “Co-workers who leave at 5 on the dot”

    Sorry but if I have a bus to catch and all my work is done, I’m leaving when my day is over.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, this notion that working above and beyond your regular hours is a sign of a good work ethic is backwards. If we’re going to talk endlessly about the importance of work-life balance, we can’t fault people for making it a priority and leaving work when their workday is done.