Avoid annoying your colleagues with bad hygiene or messy habits. Follow these 9 office kitchen etiquette rules. Be an appreciated team member. Keep your personal brand neat.
What shared kitchen etiquette is
Shared kitchen etiquette is the set of rules to keep appropriate behavior in a kitchen at the workplace. Such rules include:
- The hygiene rules.
- How to respect your coworkers.
- The behaviors to avoid in a shared kitchen.
As an employee, follow shared kitchen etiquette to respect hygiene rules, politely deal with your coworkers, and avoid any embarrassments.
As a manager or employer, promote shared kitchen etiquette in your team to ensure good hygiene at work and avoid conflicts between team members.
Shared kitchen etiquette rules
1) Apply the general kitchen and table etiquette
In the office kitchen, apply the same kitchen and table etiquette you would respect in any other situation. Apply the general cooking etiquette principles.
2) Treat the shared office kitchen as your own
Avoid anything that you would not do in your own kitchen.
Apply extra care since you are sharing the kitchen with others. Be considerate. Some actions that are acceptable for you may be annoying to others.
Keep utensils, kitchenware, and tableware clean. Use them with respect and do your best to avoid any damage. Try to avoid food and beverage spills.
3) Respect others and wait for your turn
If others are using the shared kitchen, wait for your turn. When the kitchen is busy, come back at a later time. If possible, avoid peak hours, such as lunchtime.
Move with care. Often the office kitchen spaces are limited. Other people may be in the kitchen with you. Avoid fast and abrupt movements. You risk striking others, dropping or breaking items, or hurting yourself.
Apply extra care if you are handling hot, sharp, or fragile items.
4) Avoid annoying others with your food
Use the office kitchen to prepare light, easy dishes.
Avoid elaborate dishes, which require a long preparation time. Others may be waiting their turn. Limit your occupancy of the kitchen.
Do not bring or cook smelly food. Observe your colleagues, their behavior, and the food they bring or prepare in the office kitchen. Try to mirror their habits. Some foods can be particularly annoying to many people. If possible, avoid them.
Limit the number of tools and appliances that you use at the same time. Avoid food that requires a large number of tools. Do not use multiple pans, plates, or utensils to prepare or eat your food. Similarly, limit the shared kitchen space you occupy at any time.
5) Respect hygiene rules in the shared kitchen
Follow the general personal hygiene rules. Limit the risk of spreading germs. Wash your hands before and after cooking or eating anything.
Avoid touching any business equipment, surfaces, appliances, or kitchenware with soiled hands. Wipe your hands before touching any item.
Do not use soiled utensils, tableware, or kitchenware to prepare or consume food. Similarly, avoid any surface that is not clean.
6) Clean after yourself
Wash any kitchenware after you use it. Wash dishes, glassware, and utensils before placing them in the dishwasher, if one is available. Do not leave soiled dishes or glassware in the sink.
Throw your trash in the garbage cans. Wipe the surfaces you use, such as a table or a counter. Clean spills. Remove crumbs. If you spilled anything on the floor, clean it.
Leave appliances as you found them or in even better conditions. If you use the microwave oven, cover your dish to prevent spills. If you soil appliances, wipe them with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Close cabinet doors and drawers. Do not leave them open.
7) Respect shared fridge etiquette
Occupy a limited amount of fridge space. Store in the fridge only the food that needs to be kept cold. Otherwise, store food in a pantry or cabinet. Leave room for your coworkers’ food.
Avoid storing smelly food in a shared kitchen fridge. Store food safely. Seal any container appropriately. If you store food on a dish, cover the dish with plastic.
Do not store the food for more than 2 or 3 days. Remove food before it spoils. Clear the fridge every Friday. Do not leave food in the company fridge for a full weekend.
8) Respect food ownership
Label your food. Write your name on the packaging or container.
Do not eat someone else’s food. Even if the food is not labeled, you should not eat it. If possible, avoid touching someone else’s food, or moving containers around.
9) Report office kitchen etiquette issues
Inform the janitors or office managers of any issue that you cannot solve. Such as the most common shared kitchen issues:
- Supplies such as paper towels run low.
- Something breaks.
- The office kitchen, a surface, or an appliance is very dirty.
- Someone repeatedly disrespects office kitchen etiquette.
Office kitchen etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst office kitchen etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Not washing your hands.
- 9/10. Stealing someone else’s food.
- 8/10. Moving carelessly in a shared kitchen.
- 8/10. Occupying the shared office kitchen for a long time.
- 8/10. Leaving the kitchen in a messy state.
- 7/10. Breaking fridge etiquette rules.