Tell Us: What’s Your Biggest Office Pet Peeve?

Tell Us: What’s Your Biggest Office Pet Peeve?
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Does your colleague’s humming drive you mental? Is your cubicle neighbour’s mess overflowing onto your desk? We want to know all about what makes you Hulk rage at your workplace and, more importantly, what you do in order to stop yourself from going postal in the office.

If you work in an office, you spend most of your day trapped indoors with people who all have their own habits and quirks. Nobody’s perfect, but some of your co-workers’ habits undoubtedly piss you off more than others.

For those who have misophonia (where specific sounds trigger a flow of hatred), audible ticks of fellow co-workers such as whistling, tapping on tables and humming may make them want to rip their hair out. Others people’s messy desks may send neat freaks into a state of panic. There may be a borderline kleptomaniac who constantly steals your pens without returning them.

So tell us: what’s your biggest office pet peeve? What’s something you do to deal with it? Let us know in the comments.


  • People who don’t mute their laptops, and have ALL SOUND NOTIFICATIONS on – so when you’re messaging people and you hear the PING PING PING PING!

  • People who leave the cleaning instrument in the sink. The sink is where all the friggen bits of dirty food are swishing about. Would you leave your toothbrush in your bathroom sink? No. Get it together.

      • @spandaslui As a Lifehacker mod surely you have the authority to do this? I’d love to see 1,000,000 in the number box. Also, hopefully this type of comment isn’t another one of your pet peeves

  • Cutting your nails at work. Loud eating. Trying to cut through your lunch plate with your knife and fork.

  • Mostly printer related things:
    – People who don’t refill the paper tray when it’s empty (especially if their job isn’t finished)
    – People who print a badly formatted PDF so that the printer spews out hundreds of pages with a few random ASCII characters on them ON BOTH SIDES, wasting crap load of paper
    – Not having a spare toner cartridge when it’s totally run out – that’s a poor job on admin’s part for not stocking a spare.

  • We have one guy who gets a lot of work related phone calls but every time he talks he talks soooo loud. Everybody can hear him or will answer a call in a meeting but not leave the room, he just goes there killing the meeting because no one can talk over him.

  • The stupid person that infects all those around with their stupidity. I’m sure we all have one. It’s as if you can feel the collective intelligence decline when they step into the office.

    And the phone call guy above… in an open plan office, nothing worse than someone with a booming voice that feels the need to speak so loud that people 5+ pods over feel they were a constructive part of the phone call…

    • I’ll take your loud phone call guy, and raise you speakerphone conference calls to offshore colleagues from a desk phone within the open plan area, not in an enclosed room. Then imagine two of those conference calls simultaneously either side of you.

      A close second is people who borrow your chair when dropping in on a nearby colleague, when there’s a clearly vacant desk and thus available chair literally right next to you (or people who don’t return your chair when you return to a now chairless desk)

  • People who don’t sort their garbage. The different bins are there for a reason, and if you are too lazy put it all in landfill; Don’t put rubbish in recycling and mess up the whole bin.

  • My biggest pet peeve is the “Enthusiastic Conference Goer.”
    This person is a middle to upper management employee who vaguely meets the requirements of their role. They regularly attend conferences in order to “Know what’s out there” and “Keep up with the changes in the industry” and at these conferences they get shown all the amazing things organisations with much bigger budgets and more thorough planning are doing with iPads, or e-Spaces, or Google Docs or whatever. They then come back and convince other upper management of the value of implementing an iPad environment, or embarking on a long digital maturity project while only understanding about 5% of what’s going on.

    The best example I have is when one of these people went to Sydney and saw what amazing things a wealthy private school was doing in their iOS environment with iPads and Macbooks. She came back and convinced the heads of the school that switching from windows laptops to iPads was the best thing we could possibly do for the students. The directive came down from above and we had to fight for three months to convince the heads of the school that spontaneously switching from a fairly sophisticated windows server environment to an iOS environment was prohibitively expensive, provided zero benefit to the students and would take far too long.

    In my current position I was hired to lead one of these projects. The sales pitch included the phrase “2 hours of work per fortnight” so clearly this was an easy project that would look good and deliver benefits to our members. When I was inducted into this project I realised that 2 hours per fortnight really only applied to organisations who already had 90% of the work in place. The Enthusiastic Conference Goer responsible for this still refuses to accept that the project needed more funding than was given, or that it was entered into far too hastily.

    • This. It’s often a conference relating to a subject the manager knows almost nothing about. In fact, it is often obvious that the manager didn’t completely understand the “forward thinking” and “innovative” strategy they witnessed at the conference. They will leave it up to you to figure out the details, because they are “ideas people”, not “detail people”. Disaster every time.

      I don’t see this in my current job, but in some previous roles this happened quarterly. It would be left up to me to implement something that the conference presenter had required a team of twenty to successful complete. But, the manager would conveniently miss that vital piece of resourcing information.

  • Phones on hands free has to be the worst

    Also the go-getter who wants to make all the little things in the office better and wants to have big meetings about it or raise something inconsequential in every meeting. Think should management supply pot plants for the office. Should we have loose detergent or washers that hold the detergent inside them, etc…

    Lastly the people who don’t clean there food out of a communal fridge.

  • That stupid bloody whistle notification sound on Samsung phones.

    And whistling in general, now that you mention it.

  • Those with no spatial awareness. This not only includes those loud talkers in open spaces, but also those that have conversations in hallways that block passers by. I have seen so many blank stares from people standing in front of the security swipe; they get confused when I don’t join their conversation and wonder why I’m gesturing for them to move. Also, those that have chats while holding open the security door that starts beeping because they don’t move through, those that mindlessly dunk their teabags in front of the sink while there is a queue to get to the taps, and so on.
    It’s like the concept of ‘other people’ has never occurred to them.

  • Misophonia got so unmanageable for me that I changed careers to get out of the office! Gum chewing, throat clearing, loud eating, coffee slurping, constant sniffling, keyboard bashing, knuckle cracking – in hindsight it’s actually pretty funny, but in the moment I was ready to jump out the window. Spare a thought for your neuro-atypical colleagues and chew with your damned mouth shut. Earplugs and headphones are usually winners here, but if your misophonia is as bad as mine you might be out of luck.

    That said, it’s a close call between that vs guys who insist on asking my (male, therefore obviously superior) colleagues for clarification on my projects. Fortunately my colleagues have usually had my back on this one.

  • This is from my old work place back in the day. It’s a typical peeve but hey.

    My peeve; people taking one’s own food and drink from the shared fridge.

    No joke, when I started brining in my own milk (there we budget issues so they were a bit slow getting milk in for tea room), for the first three days I never got a drop of it.

    I would bring a 1 litre cartoon in and when I’d go for a coffee two hours later it would be all gone.

    Even writing my name on cartoon wouldn’t deter the staff.

    In the end, I had to put it in a opaque lunch bad so no-one could see what as inside.

    Around a year later, things settled and the milk wasn’t a problem but I used the same bag to keep a little tin of coffee for brewing at my desk.

    One day I came in, the bag was in the fridge but the tin was gone.

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