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Jun 19, 2007 07:22 AM

Office Food Etiquette

There have been quite a few cube-mates who insist on eating spicy dishes during lunch - which mind you would most likely be delish in a restaurant! but can be overwhelming stench-wise in a tightly packed space like a cubicle (and no windows!). What would be a happy medium to this? Not saying that you should be relegated to eating non-offensive items like salads and turkey sandwiches everyday, but what would be the best way to address the issue? what are tasty foods that would be appropriate to eat in an office that do not cause strong odors?

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  1. I too have often thought of this while at work. I am often the person who would love to bring in delicious, pungent leftovers from the night before. Out of respect for my officemates, I try to only bring in foods that don't offend other's sense of smell. My thought is I can always enjoy my leftovers for dinner the next night. Now if only I can get them to stop bringing vinaigrettes with their salads! I can't stand the smell of vinegar and I have two co-workers who constantly bring in salads and leave their unwashed, vinegar smelling dishes on their desks.

    1. In my office, the company supplies food for lunches (in exchange for us working through lunch-we get paid overtime as well). The "boss" forbids certain items that have too much smell, such as popcorn. If someone brings in something smelly, they are asked to not bring it in again.

      Ask the cube-mates to take care of their bowls right away. I once had a coworker in my cube eat a very smelly lunch and leave her bowl on her desk. I asked her to deal with the bowl as it smelled too much. She took care of it right away.

      1. I worked in an office that banned popcorn because of the smell.
        I really can't think of a polite way to tell people to cover their food. What smells bad to one person smells good to another. Often my coworkers will order curry and it smells so good that I'm jealous -- not turned off, but still not happy, lol.

        I guess it depends on whether you have a break room or other place for people to sit and eat. Then maybe you could ask your supervisor to put out a general memo, directed to everyone, that say for the comfort of your co-workers, please eat your meals in the breakroom.

        If it's the type of office where most of you have to eat at your cubes bc of necessity/workload, that's a bit tougher. . .

        1. There was a very long thread on this topic on the not about food board last month:

          1. I'm someone very sensitive to smells, so I might just ask the coworkers nicely if they're bringing in really stinky stuff if it could either be eaten in one specific room (i.e. not in a main working area or not at their desks) or downstairs or outside or somewhere not in the office, etc.

            Or, perhaps not legal, but light a match after eating to diffuse the scent with the sulfur of the match... works well in the bathroom, right? ;)