There are a few cardinal rules about eating in the office. One is you don’t cook fish in the microwave. Another is you don’t eat at your desk if you share an office space with other people. Outside of that, it comes down to basic mutual respect.
Like the other day, when a co-worker originally from India brought in her lunch and was eating in the breakroom, totally minding her own business, and everyone had to make some comment about the smell of her food. Some people were actually quite rude, and are lucky they didn’t get reported to HR.
Know Your Role
Here’s the thing. Most people don’t like to eat at their car, and not everyone has the time or money to either go home for lunch every day or eat out all the time. People have to eat something to sustain themselves (a girl can’t survive on salad alone!), so, yes, sometimes you are going to smell cooked food, and sometimes you’re not going to like the smell of it. That’s sharing an office. Deal with it.
If for some reason it is really a huge issue to you (like for religious reasons, etc.) you should first try to speak directly with the person themselves, and if they blow you off, then their supervisor. If you still aren’t making headway, talk to to HR. After that, if everyone’s ignoring you, you should first consider if you’re making a mountain out of molehill, and then possibly hire a lawyer. You might also want to look for a new job. Most places don’t keep on the payroll people who sue them.
The bottom line is this: People who share an office need to show respect and at least some sort of restraint and tolerance. Working together is not always fun and not always easy, but snarky comments could quickly escalate into an uncomfortable situation. You could get reprimanded or even fired! And making snide remarks about people’s food, clothes, etc. could just get you beat up! Just ask Bartt Zarb.
It’s so much easier to just take a deep breath and let things go. If you have to deal with them, deal with them the right way. Don’t do anything to jeopardize your job, and don’t make working in your office awkward or miserable for everyone else.
by Federico LaDuenza
Residential Life Magazine