Failing to wash your hands after a visit to the bathroom (43%), heading into work with a cough or cold (37%) and air kissing your co-worker on the cheek (33%) are the workplace habits that UK employees most want banned, as the return to the office looms ever closer for many.
A recent poll1 conducted by UK-based online printer instantprint, examined which “bad habits” the nation would like to see banned from their workplace for good, following more than a year home working. It found that Brits are eager to say goodbye to quite a few habits that many of us have been guilty of doing at work, at some point in our careers.
Whilst companies up and down the country are working hard in preparing their workplace environments for a Covid-safe return, the survey found that hugging workmates (28%) and ensuring dirty gym kits are kept safely out of the office (27%) are high on the list of taboo activities Brits want to ban.
Food and drink were also found to be key themes, with the sharing of snacks (16%) the communal tea-round (16%) and storing food in the workplace fridge overnight (16%) all habits the nation is keen to bid farewell to.
Understandably, tolerance is at an all-time low and any bad habits we may have turned a blind eye to previously – such as pen chewing (25%), high-fiving colleagues (23%) and sitting on your co-workers’ desks (19%) – all featured on the list of new workplace no-no’s.
Whilst hugs and air kisses between colleagues may have been considered somewhat risky even before Covid, the survey highlighted that fist bumps (18%) and handshakes (17%) are also now off the cards too.
With strict hygiene and social distancing guidance still in place in the UK, it comes as no surprise that four in ten (41%) stated they’d be quick to call out colleagues on the workplace habits they deemed to be “gross”.
Men were found to be the least tolerant, with 45% sharing they’d be likely to pull someone up on their bad habits, compared with just 37% of women.
Women (39%) were discovered to be more likely than men (33%) to have found bad habits unsavoury prior to the pandemic though. However, lockdown appears to have provided somewhat of a wake-up call for men, as thirteen per cent more (46%) men admit they are now more aware of the “gross behaviour” of their colleagues, compared to an increase of just six per cent amongst women (45%).
Just one in 10 respondents stated that whilst they do pick up on these less favourable behaviours, it is unlikely that they’ll be strict or clinical about them with their work mates.
instantprint’s in-house Trainer, Sean Kachmarski, shared his top tips for calling out particularly unpleasant habits in the workplace:
Keep it positive
Whenever you address an issue with a colleague, you should always keep it positive. Instead of demanding that Steve goes and washes his hands after he’s been to the toilet, ask whether he’d like to get washed up in the kitchen together before lunch, or offer him some hand sanitiser – which is often the next best thing!
Take control of your own space
Even if you can’t influence what your colleagues are doing, you can influence what’s happening in your space (AKA your desk). That includes being able to frequently wipe down your keyboard and mouse with antibacterial wipes and using hand sanitiser.
Talk to your boss
If your colleague’s behaviour is getting really out of control, it might be worth having your boss support you. They’ll have either been trained or have experience in setting boundaries for their team, meaning it might be more appropriate to go to the manager rather than tackling this off your own back.
Head of instantprint Laura Mucklow commented on the survey findings:
“The return to office life is obviously going to be a huge adjustment for many, especially if your team hasn’t worked face-to-face in over a year. Giving your employees everything they need to feel safe and hygienic at work is going to be key.
“Whether that’s making hand sanitiser readily available or encouraging them to talk through their concerns with their manager. Communication around how satisfied your team is has never been more vital than it is right now.”