Office Pet Peeves

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Everybody has pet peeves about their office and coworkers. I’m sure even the SI swimsuit crew can’t stand it when the models constantly leave half full juice cleanse bottles all around the set. HASN’T ANYBODY HEARD OF A GARBAGE CAN?

Here are five of my pet peeves from the past fifteen years of work.

Complaining about how busy you are or how many emails you have in your inbox

You say, “I have so many emails.”

I heard, “I’m poor at inbox management.”

Everybody is busy. Everybody has lots of email. In the time you spent complaining about it you could have addressed one of them. Learn zero inbox skills and reap the rewards of better focus and feeling less overwhelmed.

On the other hand, as much as it causes your coworkers to roll their eyes, I am actually convinced that constantly talking about how busy you are is a good strategy for pay raises and career advancement. Your boss likely has no idea what your day-to-day looks like so they will take cues from what you say–particularly if a lot of your work does not pass their desk.

Protocols for one-offs

I’m a huge fan of systems. In fact Startopz was built with them in mind. Implementing them effectively has many benefits including streamlining processes, less dependency on any one individual’s knowledge, and allowing a business to focus efforts on larger projects that move the needle.

However, not every single thing that ever happens in a business needs a protocol. Sometimes there are unique situations or sets of circumstances that are not likely to be repeated and do not need an official company protocol created. If it is the first time it has happened in the past five or ten years then it is a pretty unique occurrence. Wait for it to happen a second time before creating a protocol. Systems are for situations that repeat.

Too many systems will lead to needing systems to manage all of the systems (a dangerous rabbit hole to be sure). You can only abstract away from actual work so much.

Solutions in search of problems

To be fair on this one the issue is that people who present solutions sometimes perceive a problem that nobody else sees. Sometimes it exists and sometimes it is just in their heads. Every solution should be questioned and examined before implementing in order to not waste time and money (potentially lots of like when management wants to use a big name CRM as a backend to a website that receives less than a hundred logins a month when the feature set could be implemented in LAMP in under a week).

One time somebody in our office hilariously asked us to include the work “pink” in the subject line of any email we sent her that was urgent. Her thought was that if she then searched her inbox for pink (a word that does not appear often in our business emails) she would get a list of the emails that required her immediate attention. I did not have the heart to tell her that Outlook has a “High Importance” flag already built in.

Dates in file names

On the shared drive at our office we have dates written out in the following formats:

  • Common Document yyyymmdd.pdf (hard to read at a glance)
  • Common Document mm-dd-yy.pdf (dates starting with months are poor if you have a lot of them that span years)
  • Common Document mmddyy.pdf (one vendor provides us these)
  • Common Document yyyy-mm-dd.pdf

Only the last one is “one correct way.” No room for argument.

This also applies to emails (particularly with Europeans) where dates are written mm/dd/yy or dd/mm/yy.

Refusal to hit F1, RTFM, or use Google

When you do not first try to help yourself you are wasting somebody else’s time. It is very easy to look up answers to most questions that you might have about the software you use day to day. In Window there is a special key for it. In almost any program you can hit F1 and it will bring up the help system for that software.

The delivery of software on CDs was the beginning of the demise of the printed manual. Now that so much of the software used every day is cloud based the manual is instead the documentation on the site. Even more easily accessible than a shelf or a box in the basement where you kept manuals “just in case”. Just look for the world “Help” written on your screen. Or search Google. It has crawled it already.

Speaking of Google. Use it. Love it. It has the answer you are looking for.

if you are on good terms with somebody who constantly asks you easily Googleable questions then you can enter the search term in Let Me Google That For Your and send them back the link. Not recommended for bosses.

Any others?

Drop an email to me (info at this domain) and let me know what pet peeves you have about your office. Or hit us up on Twitter and tell the world about your coworker who never refills the pot after taking the last cup of coffee (#officepetpeeve).