The 50 Most Annoying Office Habits (and a Plea to the Culprits!)

Do you have to bite your tongue at work due to your colleagues' annoying office habits? You're not the only one. But are you unknowingly annoying the rest of the office? See for yourself with this week's blog about the 50 most annoying office habits!you might be unpleasantly surprised.

June 20, 2023

We can’t always pick and choose who we work with.

Recently we posted a blog about horrible bosses and it seems that pretty much everyone has got a bone to pick with at least one of their previous superiors, whether put out by their negativity and naivety or micro-management and so-called 'office politics.'

But what about our colleagues?

We spend all day, 5 days a week (or more) with these people and there is just bound to be some little habits and nuances that grind our gears.

This week, we've put together a list of the 50 most annoying office habits, as voted for by you, the UK public and a heartfelt plea, for the culprits: please stop!

Could you be one of our guilty culprits? You might be if...

Telephone Etiquette

Habit 1. You use a speakerphone in an open office.

If you wouldn't do it in public, then you certainly shouldn't do it in the office; it's rude, distracting and irritating.

If you would do it in public - shame on you.

Habit 2. You talk too loudly on the telephone.

Generally you should get a feeling when you're talking too loudly on the phone.

People might stare, roll their eyes, huff, tut and whisper.

Habit 3. You ignore your telephone.

This is especially frustrating when you expect others to get it for you...

Oh wait, you’re too busy to pick up the phone? You’d like me to get it for you? No, no sure, you’re right, your job IS more important than mine!

Habit 4. Your mobile phone pings all day long.

Some people seem to be unbearably proud of how popular they are; refusing to turn off notifications from Facebook messages, Snapchats, WhatsApps etc.

No one cares - in fact, you're putting across entirely the opposite impression (that you're a try-hard) - put it on silent.

Disrespecting Boundaries!

Habit 5. You overshare.

It's nice to have friends at work - obviously.But there are boundaries that should NEVER be crossed and taboo topics that should ALWAYS be avoided.

Such topics include... your history of drug abuse, latest bout of piles, recent sexual conquests...

Habit 6. You invade everyone's personal space.

Every office has that one employee who can't help but cross the boundaries of normal human interaction.

The crimes of these space invaders vary in gravity from standing just a little bit too close and touching just a little bit too much to tickling and hugging (in extreme cases).

You may be comfortable with touching, so might some of your colleagues, but the reluctant touchers among your office will find it uncomfortable, annoying and downright rude!

This BuzzFeed article perfectly sums up my feelings on the matter: 22 Things Everyone Who Hates Being Touched Needs People To Know.


Habit 7. You eavesdrop.

Eavesdrop all you like - but at least be subtle about it!

When you're mid-conversation and then someone randomly chimes in (particularly in the middle of a debate...) it can be pretty damn annoying.

It's just as annoying (and pretty weird) when you bring something up with a colleague that you overheard - why on earth are you listening into my conversation?

Habit 8. You gossip.

In every office, there'll be at least one King or Queen Gossip.

They'll know everything about everyone and be more than willing to shamelessly share their knowledge with anyone who's in earshot.

Anyone with a brain won't reveal anything of real value or secrecy to the King or Queen so in most cases they're rendered harmless.

Habit 9. You're in a bitch clique.

It's the more underhand gossipers that you have to watch out for. Those are the colleagues that you know and trust, but that leak your secrets to the rest of the office.

A gang of office gossipers will quickly turn into a bitch clique...

Everyone needs to vent from time-to-time, but there's a very big difference between venting your frustrations and hanging around with a school playground bitch clique.

It still happens and if you're involved, you'll know it.

Also, stop trying to pass off bitching as 'office politics.'

(Men who are reading this and thinking ‘well men don’t bitch, so this has nothing to do with me’ – you’re not fooling anyone.)

Habit 10. You e-gossip.

Using messenger, Teams, Slack or email to gossip and bitch is just as annoying yet just as common.

STOP - everyone knows what you're doing; especially when you and your pals all start giggling at the same time.

The Mess.

Habit 11. You allow your mess to leak onto other desks.

A serious plea to all office workers...

Just stick to your side of the desk - please!

Habit 12. You leave the microwave dirty.

If your "microwavable" lunch somehow manages to explode all over the place (I bet you didn't put a lid on it - did you?) then clear up your mess!

Side-note: reheating smelly fish in the microwave is inhumane.

Habit 13. You make a mess in the kitchen.

Would you leave half-full mugs and glasses, food-encrusted plates and bowls, food splashes, crumbs, used teabags and mouldy remains all over your kitchen at home? Didn't think so.

The question is; who do you think should clean it all up?

Habit 14. You're bewilderingly messy in the toilet.

Some people appear absolutely incapable of using a toilet properly (I'm sure you've seen some things in office toilets in your time - we all have).

Please flush the toilet. Please use the toilet brush. Please don't use too much toilet paper. Please unblock, if necessary. Please replace the toilet paper when you’ve used it all up (or tell someone who can)...


Habit 15. You show up late to meetings.

Your boss may not be in – but it still pisses everyone off when you waltz into a meeting late and they have to repeat the entire conversation again.

Recruiter Pro Tip (for those suffering with late colleagues). OK - no one wants to grass up their colleagues for being late all the time. But why not have a quiet word with them? Or better yet, when Secret Santa (or their birthday) crops up, buy them a cheap watch as a little 'I'm joking, but I'm not really joking' hint!

Habit 16. You show up late to work.

People who are always on time are bound to be irked by people who are always late - they'll feel put out and wonder how on earth you're getting away with it.

Habit 17. You constantly take long lunches.

Yes – we’d all like a 1 1/2 hour lunch break – unfortunately that’s not the way it works.

Passive Aggressiveness

Habit 18. You leave post-it notes all around the office.

OK so it’s annoying when people leave the kitchen in a mess, (see 'The Mess' section we've already mentioned above)

But leaving condescending passive-aggressive post-it notes seems to irk colleagues just as much (if not more) than that.

If you're facing a feud with a messy colleague, then I genuinely pity you - you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Check out some of the best responses to passive-aggressive notes in this hilarious article: The 26 Funniest Responses To Passive Aggressive Notes

Habit 19. You say 'afternoon' when someone's late...

If I'm late, (and we're talking minutes here) I'm already probably having a bad day, so I'd drop it.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

Habit 20. You send passive-aggressive emails... a colleague, about them, copying the boss in. the boss, about a colleague, copying them in.

Sending emails to the boss badmouthing someone's performance, is petty at the best of times.

CCing your colleague into that email is just plain evil.

Habit 21. You blind copy the boss into emails...

...that are discussing a personal matter of someone else's. (Just plain bitchy).

...that highlight mistakes a colleague has made. (Grassing them up basically).

...requesting that a colleague get a piece of work done for you. (Keeping tabs).

We will find out...

Loud Noises

Habit 22. You listen to music too loudly.

If you can't hear a thing over the sound of your music (and you don't have noise cancellation earphones) then chances are, your music is too loud.

If you keep getting funny looks, tuts and comments like 'why are you listening to that crap' then chances are, your music is too loud.

If I can actually hear the words to some song about finding a cheerleader, blaring through your earphones, then your music is definitely too loud.

Habit 23. You sing, hum or whistle along to your music.

It's ten times worse if you actually start singing, humming or whistling along.

Stop. Please.

Habit 24. You repeatedly tap your feet or hands.

This habit usually goes hand-in-hand with some sort of humming or whistling.

It’s so off-putting and just so easy NOT to do.

Habit 25. You cackle.

If you're one of those people that clearly has an unbearably loud cackle of a laugh, at least attempt to tone it down - please!

We'll let you off the odd fit of giggles, but plaguing our eardrums every 10 minutes is overkill.

Habit 26. You eat too loudly.

Nobody wants to hear that swilling and slurping of your saliva as you chomp on that chewing gum or crunch of your crisps!

It's gross.

Habit 27. You sniff - All. Day. Long.


Every office has a sniffer and every office has someone who hates the sniffer.

Blow your nose!


Habit 28. You bring smelly food into the office.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - stop bringing stinky food into the office (if you care at all about what your colleagues think of you)!

That includes egg butties, fishy foods, popcorn, left-over take aways, over-garlicky concoctions...

Again - microwaving fish is a complete and utter no-no!

Habit 29. You don't wash.

I could put this more delicately, but what's the point? It really is a common and quite annoying habit!

You may have been out late last night but that certainly doesn’t excuse the boozy B.O smells emanating from your entire body.

Take a shower, put on some deodorant, mask the smell with perfume – whatever you have to do - just do it.

Habit 30. You spray perfume or deodorant in the office.

Don't get me wrong, perfume and deodorant are abundantly better than smelly food and BO smells - but must you spray them in the office?

The sweet and musty smells that linger in the air can get quite sickening after a while and even the less potent ones leave people choking on the fumes.

The Air Conditioning

Habit 31. You don't ask if you can switch it on/off.

It's common etiquette to at least mention that you're going to change the temperature.

Ask around to see what others think – the majority rules after all.

(It's unlikely that anyone will argue with you anyway).

Habit 32. You don't let people switch it on...

...because you’re cold, but you refuse to wear a jumper.

There is a limit to how many items of clothing people can take off in the office to keep cool.

If the majority of people in your office are too warm and you’re cold, but you won't wear a jumper, then you've got no leg to stand on.

Let there be air con!

Habit 33. You don't let people switch it off...

...because you’re too hot, but you refuse to take some clothes off.

Take your jumper, cardigan or jacket off and consider others in the office.

If the majority of people in your office are too cold and you’re warm, but you won’t take your winter clothes off, then you’ve got no leg to stand on.

Greedy Guts

Habit 34. You eat the last treat without offering it out.

Chances are, no one will be brash enough to take that last doughnut from you as you offer it around; it’s just courteous to ask before you take (especially if you’ve already had one and not everyone else has!)

Food can make or break an office friendship!

Habit 35. You pinch food from the fridge.

Yes, in most offices, the milk, tea bags, coffee and sugar are communal.

Butter is pushing it.

Bread, Nutella, pesto, sauces and salad dressings are almost certainly not up for grabs!

You may think that swiping just one measly spread of butter won't do any harm, but if everyone thinks that way, the tub will soon disappear.

Money Matters.

Habit 36. You constantly ask for donations.

To be fair, most people will be more than happy to donate to charity and sponsor colleagues they know for walking up a mountain etc. But there is a line, people.

If you're asking for money on a weekly basis, then your colleagues are bound to start getting irritated.

Habit 37. You guilt trip people...

...into contributing to a gift, regardless of whether they know the person or not.

Passing around a confidential envelope is OK (if you're not watching).

Standing over a colleague as they fish through their wallet looking for an appropriate cash donation for Kevin from the London branch (who they've never met and never will meet) is not.

Hygiene Problems.

Habit 38. You constantly sneeze, cough and worse…

Anyone who sneezes or coughs, without using a tissue or covering their mouth, should be shot.

(OK bit harsh...)

Habit 39. You come into work when you're ill.

You may feel like you’re doing everyone a great favor by braving work, even though you're clearly (and contagiously) ill - but you're not.

When the rest of the office all join you in the runny-nose, croaky-voice club, then there's only one person they're going to blame!

Habit 40. You take off your shoes and your feet smell.

By all means, feel free to take your shoes off at your desk if and only if your feet don't smell.

Your colleagues aren't going to be impressed when they get random whiffs of foot throughout the day.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Habit 41. You ask questions the internet could answer.

Perhaps, you're just a sociable person and you like to use questions as a conversation starter?

Unfortunately, people don't like it...maybe try a different tactic.

Habit 42. You ask the same questions over and over.

There’s nothing more annoying than showing someone how to do something over and over again.

If it's a tricky operation, write notes so you don't forget OR ask the internet for help.

Habit 43. You ask too many questions, all of the time.

No one wants to come to work and face the Spanish inquisition!

Think before you speak – is your question appropriate? Is it worth taking the time to ask? If you ask it every day, will it drive everyone mad?

Examples: 'What did you have for lunch?' 'You looking forward to the weekend?' 'Did you have a troublesome childhood?'


Habit 44. You complain about hating work.

You're just bringing your happy colleagues down and reminding your unhappy colleagues, just how unhappy they are.

Get a new job if it's that bad!

Habit 45. You complain about your commute every day.

See above.

Stop moaning and do something about it!

Habit 46. You complain about how busy you are.

The 30 minutes a day you spend complaining about how busy you are, could surely be put to better use (to ease your busy burden maybe?)

Especially if you're not actually not very busy at all!

Brew Issues.

Habit 47. You don’t respect the tea round rules.

If you don’t want to be involved in a tea-round, don’t accept a cuppa from someone else first.

You can’t have your cake and eat it.

Habit 48. You're a fussy brew drinker.

How do you take your tea?

'Ooh sorry I'm a bit fussy - could I have a decaf teabag, filled up half way with warm milk, and half boiling water and 1.5 sugars please? Oh - and could you leave it to brew for 10 minutes?'

NO! You'll have a normal brew and you'll enjoy it.

The Worst of the Worst.

Habit 49. You suck up to the boss.

Your colleagues really don't like it when you do this...

The most hated habits include... agreeing with everything your boss says, pretending to work really hard when they're around, belittling others so that you look good etc.

The funny thing is, there's a very real chance that your boss (if they're a good, observant boss) will know that you're playing up to them and are also unlikely to be impressed.

Habit 50. You're a tell-tale.

No one likes a tell-tale - even the boss.

If you're grassing your colleagues up for this, that and the other, then they're bound to be unhappy.

Shame on you.

Are YOU Guilty? I Bet You Are.

Well – people of the UK – you're certainly a judgmental lot!

But lets be honest, we've all probably done one or two of the annoying office habits above - we're only human!

However, we do recommend that you try to keep any negative habits under wraps when you first start working at a new place and at the very least on your first day!

Recruiter Pro Tip. There's huge difference between annoying office habits (that are, for the most part, quite comical) and serious employee issues. As a manager it's important to keep your ear to the ground and try and keep the peace (particularly if you think that someone is pissing everyone else off). You want ALL of your staff to get on if the you want the team to genuinely care about your business.

Next time you're feeling disgruntled by a sniffer or even angry at a tell-tale, take a step back, relax and think about all the ways you might be annoying your colleagues.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.