Lunch etiquette: workplace edition

Are you breaking one of these workplace eating rules right now?

Lunch etiquette: workplace edition

No smelly food, no crumbs on the floor, and wipe up after yourself – your mother doesn’t work here! The kitchen has long been a battlefield for coworkers, but now one modern Emily Post has set down the definitive rules for workplace meals.

“The well-known Boy Scout rule to leave the campsite cleaner than the way you found it can and indeed should be applied to office kitchen sinks and counters,” Mary Mitchell, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Modern Manners Fast Track, said. “Whether it's your desk, the office refrigerator, the coffeepot, the counter, the sink, or the floor: if you spill something, clean it up. Your colleagues are not your servants; nor are you theirs.”

Mitchell also suggested that it’s rude to eat in front of someone who’s not eating. So if someone interrupts your lunch ask them to return in 10 minutes – and make sure you’re ready when they return.

Mitchell’s Guide to Workplace Eating:


  • Your lunch should not smell so much it attracts attention, negative or positive.
  • Nobody should be able to hear you chomping it, either, or slurping your soup or beverage.
  • Refrigerators need to be cleaned out every week, and food should not be stored there over weekends.
  • Whatever you bring, make sure it's in airtight containers labeled with your name.
  • Don't be a space hog, monopolizing the fridge with your colossal container.
  • Microwaves are not for cooking at the office. They are only for heating food, so don't monopolize them, and don't walk away and leave them while something of yours is being heated.
  • If your office has a single serve coffeemaker clean up after yourself. Dispose of used containers and wipe up any drips or spills.
  • If you’re sharing a coffee pot, refill it if you take the last dregs and the same rules as above apply for cleaning up.

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