What We Don’t Miss at All About the Office

“Hell is other people.” Jean-Paul Sartre

One benefit of working from home is being able to avoid contact with other humans. Pre-pandemic, coworkers spent more waking hours with each other than with their families. That much togetherness inevitably means we drive each other crazy.

Quality Logo Products surveyed 1,902 employed Americans and asked what behaviors they find the most irritating in their colleagues. Being annoyed with each other is part of the being human, of course, and the survey results tell us just how common the feeling is.  Ninety percent of the workers asked said at least one coworker annoys them. When asked further, 40% are annoyed with up to four coworkers around them. And one in five are annoyed by at least five colleagues.

Find the full report here.

What’s surprising is that only 30% of the workers surveyed claimed their managers were annoying; the rest found entry-level and mid-level workers more irritating. Eighteen percent said they were annoyed by someone on the job every day, and over half of workers (57%) have considered quitting because of an annoying coworker. We presume the survey questions didn’t ask about dark fantasies of revenge and violence.

If you’re annoyed, it apparently helps to bring it up. Sixty-eight percent of workers said they’d had a face-to-face conversation about annoying behavior with the perpetrator, and 80% of the workers said the situation improved after a conversation.

That might be related to this data point: only one in three workers said they knew they were annoying, but 43% have been confronted at some point about annoying behavior. I can understand inadvertently getting on your coworkers’ nerves, but you have to wonder about the 33% who know they’re annoying people and still keep it up.

The most annoying behaviors included:

  • Interrupting: 48%
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work :47%
  • Oversharing: 45%
  • Not doing their work :42%
  • Arrogance: 41%

The good news is that distance helps. Half of workers were much less annoyed by colleagues when they didn’t work together physically. But 39% found coworkers more annoying when they were working remotely. The remote behaviors that drive people crazy include not responding to messages and emails (48%), and the rest of the responses related to noise: Background noise during Zoom meetings (47%), eating on camera (43%), and failing to master the mute button (40%.)

At least working from home means you don’t have to smell the tuna fish sandwich your cubicle mate brought for lunch. Smelly food still ranks high ion the list of annoying office behavior. I wrote about another annoying habits survey in a 2017 post, and smells and noise are perennial list makers.

Here’s TikTok star Noodles the Pooch thinking mean thoughts about her coworkers while looking adorable. Enjoy.

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