POLL: The Annoyance of People Eating at their Desks


There was a time when going to work included allotting two-hours’ time for a martini lunch.  No more.  Increased productivity has led to shorter and shorter lunches, and increasingly, sitting at a desk and eating lunch while typing away.

A new Gallup survey finds 67% of office workers report eating at their desks at least once a week, and not everyone in the nearby cubicles is all up with that.  In fact, some people are pretty sensitive about it, especially aromas wafting through the air.  “Choose foods that are pungent and smell,” advises etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, founding director of The Protocol school of Palm Beach. “Stay away from anything that has onions or garlic, or makes a lot of noise like potato chip wrappers.  You just want to eat as quietly as possible.”  Noise and smell are the two big complaints.

Presumably if you are eating at your desk there is probably a refrigerator at the office, and that brings a whole host of other problems and rules to follow.  “Don’t eat somebody else’s food.  That’s rule number one,” suggests Whitmore.  “And if you do bring your lunch don’t leave it in the refrigerator more than three days. It could get old and smell.  And don’t use anyone else’s condiments without their permission.”

So, are you going to eat at your desk today?  Here are some top five rules you need to know:

  • Avoid pungent foods
  • Eat during the normal meal time – you’ll be less likely to stand out
  • Beware of bacteria and germs, for yourself and others
  • Keep the kitchen office area clean. Your mother doesn’t work there.
  • Ask if anyone minds

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