March 2, 2021

The biggest problems in offices and how to fix them

5 min read

If you manage an office, you’ll find yourself needing to deal with a whole host of different issues from time to time. Some might be unique to your office, but there are other challenges that every office, irrespective of your profession or industry, faces universally, on a daily basis.
Whether it’s things not being put back in their rightful places, irritating habits of co-workers or gossiping trouble makers, every person who manages an office has to put up with these gripes from time to time.
Do you recognise any from your office building? And what do you do about them?

Not finding what you need

There is a document that you need to print urgently, but there is no printing paper to be found anywhere. Or the printer ink has run out but nobody reordered any new cartridges so now you’re stuck with a half printed document. Sound familiar? What about missing pens and highlighters, and staplers that regularly seem to go walkabout. Nobody will own up to being the thief, but these things don’t walk themselves away.
A good office manager should ensure a steady supply of office essentials and maintain a complete inventory in order to help you track down supplies and keep on top of shortages. You might even be able to work out who that stapler thief is if your detective work is good.

The air conditioning argument

On, or off? An office staff is usually divided into two groups when it comes to the topic of what should be done about the air conditioner. The first group consists of those who are always hot regardless of the weather outside and constantly demand that the air conditioner should be set to low temperatures.
Naturally, the second group wants the exact opposite. They like to be warm and comfortable which for some means sweat beads on the forehead. Arguments over air conditioning will carry on until time immemorial, but at some point someone needs to take an executive decision and work out a happy medium temperature the office is to be set at. After that, the cold bunch need to bring in an extra sweater, and the hot bunch need to buy a desk fan.

Always the one to get tea for the team

There’s always someone in the office who seems to end up being the tea boy/girl.  The moment they get up from their seat, there are usually calls of “if you’re making a brew, can I have a tea/coffee please?”
If that person is you, bad luck. Maybe say you’ve gone off caffeine for a while if you’d rather it wasn’t always your job. Or just see it as a sign that people really like your tea-making abilities and take it as a complement.

Using other people’s mugs

Another seemingly universal problem that befalls every office is the issue of co-workers using each others’ mugs *and then not washing them up*. There are ways around mug-battles such as getting people to write their names on their own mugs but there will still be one person who uses somebody else’s mug, with no regard for the irritation it causes.
If another person in the office is using your mug on a daily basis, (whether they wash it up on not), you need to take a stand. Ask politely, and if that doesn’t work, maybe try buying them a mug by way of friendly fire. And if even that doesn’t work, invest in some disposable cups.

Birthday treats

Who doesn’t love an office birthday when it involves cakes being offered around. How can that possibly be a bone of contention? Except that, office birthday cakes can be the cause of all sorts of diplomatic fall outs. Did you bring enough for everyone in the office to have one? Or did you only cater for a select group of your closest colleagues? God help you if you miscalculated and you’re just one cake short. Who will you leave out?
With this one, it’s a case of taking the approach that it’s your birthday and you can do whatever the heck you like. Or just scrapping birthday cakes altogether and persuading your colleagues to take you to the pub after work and for a birthday drink instead.

Jokes

You might think it’s funny, your best work buddy thinks its funny, but if your co-worker from accounts doesn’t think it’s funny you can end up in some hot water where jokes are concerned. One person’s banter is another person’s sacking offence.
If the joke comes from your line manager or boss though, do you dare not laugh? If your appraisal depends on the decibel of your fake laughter then you might be in the wrong job because laughing at jokes (if you can call them that) just to keep in someone’s good books, can take a toll on your integrity after a while.

The never ending chat

Noisy colleagues can be found in every office around the world. But the fact that others seem to be able to tolerate that one person who never stops talking and puts you off your work all day long, doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Regardless of how badly you may want to yell “shut up” at the top of your voice, you know it will only land you in hot water, so what’s to be done in that situation?
A polite request is the best way to start, and if that doesn’t work then a word with your manager is the next step. If it’s affecting your ability to get your work done, then it isn’t something you can just turn a deaf ear to, as much as you might want to. Although having said that, ear plugs or headphones if you’re able to wear them, might be the simplest, least controversial solution to this one.

It’s my chair!

Do we need to say any more on this one? Other than, is there an office in the world where someone hasn’t claimed rights over a chair?
When a diverse group of individuals come together to work for an organisation there are bound to be clashes once in a while. Ensuring those clashes don’t spill over into all out war however is the job of a good office manager. Tact and diplomacy are almost always the ways forward.

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