A recent survey funded by the U.K.-based Vapourcore.com asked 1,000 co-workers what irritating habits bother them at work and then had those  co-workers rank the top 10 responses in order of how irritating they are.

It turned out that respondents found one particular habit to be FOUR TIMES more irritating than the lowest of the top 10. Can you guess which habit really sticks in your co-workers' collective craws...without reading the top 10 list below?

10. Wearing the same clothes.

One out of 10 respondents named this habit. My first thought here was: Why would anyone care? Einstein wore identical suits so he wouldn't waste time thinking about what to wear. On second thought, though, this probably refers to wearing the same outfit without having it cleaned.

9. Cooking smelly foods.

Ah, the infamous office microwave. There's nothing like a tuna casserole to remind you why you'd rather be working from home. Hey, now that I think of it, maybe people who microwave stinky food at work are angling to be allowed to work from home!

8. Smelling like cigarettes.

This gripe is probably more common in Europe, where smoking remains socially acceptable, than in the U.S., where it's not. Still, I once had a co-worker who took a cigarette break every hour. She was smart and talented but you could smell her from across the conference room.

7. Talking loudly on the phone.

Loud phone talkers were a big problem in cubicle-land (but not an unsolvable one--see the anecdote at the end of this post about noisy coworkers). Needless to say, they're even more annoying in open plan offices, where they add to the pervasive noise pollution.

6. Staying in the toilet too long.

Apparently, some people disappear into the restroom for as long as 30 minutes. I suspect that they're using the stall as way to gain some personal privacy in open plan offices, thus creating a logjam. This is yet more proof open plan offices are the dumbest management fad of all time.

5. Interrupting.

While men and women shared most of these 10 gripes in equal numbers, women named this particular gripe much more frequently than the men did. No surprise there, because studies have shown that women get interrupted much more frequently than men (and usually by men).

4. Messy desks.

Another totally unnecessary problem resulting from open plan offices. Because everyone's workspace is visible, messy desks add to the visual pollution, increasing distraction and reducing productivity. Not a problem with cubicles, private offices, or work-from-home.

3. Not washing up.

In Brit-talk, "washing up" means cleaning up after using the kitchen, so this refers to people who leave the break room messy. That's obviously annoying, but what's worse, IMHO, is that many people (men, mostly) don't wash after using the toilet.

2. Ignoring emails.

This was another gripe that bothered women more than men, probably because men tend to disregard women's ideas and opinions, which manifests itself as interruptions when face-to-face and disregard when interacting online.

And the No. 1 habit that co-workers find irritating is... (drum roll)

1. Offensive body odor.

More than four out of ten respondents named this as their pet peeve, which means that there are apparently a lot of otherwise healthy people in the workplace who aren't cleaning themselves properly or don't use deodorant. Yuck.

Bonus Habit: You Tell Me

While I think that's a pretty good list, I'm wondering whether it really hits everyone's pet peeve. So I'm asking: What do your co-workers do every day that really irritates you? For me, it's emails that begin with "Hope you are well."  You?

Published on: Jul 17, 2018
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