Eating Etiquette at Work
Whether you work in a culture where lunch is ‘for wimps’ or it’s simply commonplace to find people snacking or even taking their lunch at their desk or you’ve been asked to work overtime and a quick bite to eat at your desk or work station is all you can fit in to your schedule there are some very important dos and don’ts when it comes to eating etiquette at work. Assuming the company allows you to do that, here are some basic rules to follow.
Keep It Simple
It doesn’t matter if you prefer a plate of spaghetti to eating a Chow Mein with chop sticks - in the workplace, keep it simple if you are planning to eat at your desk. Stick to things like sandwiches, a pie or a pasty, or something that can be kept in a pot or small plastic container and eaten simply with a fork or spoon.
Don’t Eat In front Of the Customers or Whilst You’re On the Phone
Be very aware of customers/clients coming into your place of work and don’t eat in front of them if you’re at your desk. And, for those of you whose work involves using the telephone, make sure you only eat at your desk when it’s your designated break time. Many call centre personnel in particular have been caught out by taking a large bite out of a sandwich or munching a mouthful of crisps when they suddenly hear the ‘bing-bong’ that signals another call is coming through.
No Smelly Stuff
Don’t bring food into work to eat at your desk that gives off a pungent smell. Garlic and rich spicy flavoured foods such as you’d find in Chinese or Indian dishes are a complete ‘no-no’. You might think they smell and taste delicious but your colleagues sitting close to you may hold a totally opposite view, at least in the workplace.
Watch Your Timing
If you work at a 9 to 5 job, be very careful about bringing things in for breakfast. Unless it’s the norm around the workplace, it could be perceived that you’re not in the right frame of mind to start your working day. After all, your boss will usually expect you to begin work promptly on time at the start of your shift so if you’re eating, you’re obviously not working which might be looked upon unfavourably by your boss or immediate supervisor. Likewise, if you’re on a 10 minute break and you’re eating at your desk or work station, make sure you’ve completed your snack and cleared up before the 10 minutes is up – your employer isn’t paying you to eat on their time, after all.
Respect the Cleaners
Cleaners play a vital role in the efficiency of a company but they are not employed to wipe down food stains or to pick up crumbs except in the canteen so show them and your colleagues nearby some respect and clean up your mess and get rid of any wrappers, food containers, cups and cans when you’ve finished eating.
Consider Your Colleagues
Remember that whilst you might be on your break, your colleagues might still be working so show them some respect and keep chat to a minimum if you have to eat at your work station. And, if you do engage in any kind of conversation with them, don’t talk with your mouth full. There’s nothing quite as repulsive as somebody spitting remnants of food at you when you’re having a conversation.
Practice Good Hygiene
Once you have finished eating and have cleared up, go to the bathroom and clean your teeth. A toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste kept in a bag or pocket is always useful in the workplace. Wash your hands thoroughly also before resuming work, especially in a shared workspace where somebody might have to use the same equipment as you’ve been using when they come in for their shift.
Whenever it’s possible, however, you should always try to keep food and work separate and to only eat in a designated place like a canteen. Not only will this mean that you’ll not have to remember so many Dos and Donts, a canteen is also a good place for you to socialise and relax and to get to know your work colleagues better.