A comprehensive list of common (and petty) workplace pet peeves
Engagement 4 minute read

A comprehensive list of common (and petty) workplace pet peeves

Megan Orr | May 19, 2022

Everyone has workplace pet peeves, but many employees have been able to avoid the majority of them while working remotely. However, returning to shared workspaces means that employees may find themselves confronted by pet peeves once more.

“I guess it’s just the end of courtesy in the workplace!” says The Office’s Pam Beesly after asking her coworkers to be mindful of overpowering scents and foods while she’s dealing with morning sickness. The infamous cold-open of The Office ends with Dwight refusing to give up his right to eat hard-boiled eggs at his desk, resulting in a—yikes—chain vomit reaction featuring nearly everyone at Dunder Mifflin. 

So, is it the end of courtesy in the workplace? To many, it may seem that way. With many organizations transitioning back to shared workspaces, workplace pet peeves are also returning as coworkers with different personalities, preferences, and speaking volumes interact in-person again. 

One of the most common workplace pet peeves is being interrupted regularly. 

With research showing that it can take upwards of 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption, it’s no wonder being interrupted tops the list of workplace pet peeves.  An interruption is really anything that stops your flow of work and requires you to refocus: a coworker asking what feels like the millionth question, a fire alarm going off, a Slack chime, someone eating a loud snack nearby, and so on. 

The reason this workplace pet peeve makes sense: Being interrupted regularly can take up a big chunk of someone’s day and the collaborative/easy-access nature of the office makes it difficult to “mute” distractions. 

The reason it’s petty: Employees can control their environment to some extent by choosing to wear headphones, working in a less-crowded area in the office, and temporarily silencing Slack notifications. Interruptions go hand-in-hand with collaboration in shared workspaces. 

An Ask a Manager write-in recently stated they were annoyed by flowery/poetic goodbye emails shared with the entire organization. 

The writer complains that they work at an approximately 100-person company that still has many practices that seem very ‘small business’, the main annoyance being that everyone still writes touching goodbye emails before leaving the company. 

The writer explains: “The emails are always rather fawning (I’m so sad to be leaving, you are all an incredible bunch of people, I’ve never worked with more talented coworkers, etc.)” and when the writer themselves left for another role, they felt pressured to write something similar “to avoid ruffling feathers”.

The reason this workplace pet peeve makes sense: This practice can put an implicit pressure on everyone who’s leaving to come up with some sort of clever/thoughtful/inspiring message of farewell, when a lot of the time those sentiments don’t necessarily ring true. Additionally, as Ask a Manager’s Alison Green points out, it’s definitely a habit from smaller businesses and teams that can reflect a company that’s grown but “is still doing stuff in the way that made sense when they were smaller but doesn’t fit as well now that they’re bigger”. 

The reason it’s petty: Employees who don’t wish to read farewell emails can simply delete them. 

The shared kitchen space serves up a buffet of workplace pet peeves. 

The list of shared kitchen/lunch or breakroom pet peeves is a long one. From leaving dirty dishes in the sink, not emptying the dishwasher to hogging the microwave or warming up overly pungent food, there are a lot of workplace pet peeves that take place where work doesn’t often happen. 

The reason this workplace pet peeve makes sense: Not being mindful of others in communal spaces is definitely a big no-no. Keeping shared areas clean and inhabitable is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace—not the few who are willing to clean up after everyone else. 

The reason it’s petty: Like other workplace pet peeves on our list, issues regarding kitchen etiquette come with the territory.

Bonus reading: Check out the worst (or best?) workplace pet peeves on display in this Ask a Manager story about an office potluck.

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