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Posts Tagged ‘office etiquette’

Office Snacking Etiquette

In etiquette, how to on August 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Follow these tips to ensure that your office snacking is a civilized, fun filled experience.

Spending time with others to share a meal (or even snacks) in a communal setting is a wonderful pastime that many enjoy.  Whether it is around the family table, at a favorite restaurant or even a party, communal eating is a great way to catch up, strengthen bonds and connect with those around us.

This is especially true in the workplace.  Taking time out for communal eating/snacking in the workplace can encourage team building, idea creation, engagement, raise energy levels and of course banish post lunch hunger pangs.  Lets face it, even the most awesome work environments can use the provision of delicious, fun treats to add excitement to a typical workday.

Having said that, when it comes to office snacking, behaviors can occasionally get out of control.  You are probably familiar with the scenario:  you’re at work (or some other type of gathering) where there is plenty of food to enjoy and that one random person joins the group and without discretion, literally grabs food with their bare hands.  Hold Up!  Where did you just come from?  Have you washed your hands or at least used some hand sanitizer?  How does anyone know that you didn’t just use the restroom or public transportation?  Or that you didn’t just wipe your nose or come from the office handling tons of paperwork?

As with dining etiquette that suggests chewing with your mouth closed and keeping your elbows off the table, there is etiquette for less formal dining situations that suggests how one should conduct themselves – even around office chips and dip.

The following basic rules can apply anywhere…

  • Wash your hands before approaching food and drink.  No one knows where you and your hands have been.  If there is a sink nearby, do a courtesy hand wash or use hand sanitizer before touching any food (or plates/utensils) to lessen the concern of those around you.
  • Refrain from touching your hair, face and especially your nose while around communal food for obvious reasons.
  • Use utensils whenever possible – at least when it comes to serving yourself.  Many times communal office snacks are finger foods (cheese, crackers, other forms of crudite, dips and sauces) and there is always an inclination to grab a portion with bare hands.  Please don’t.  And please, as a courtesy, don’t use your chip or carrot as a utensil unless its your personal portion.
  • No Double Dipping.  Please don’t dip your chip (or other dip-able food), bite off a portion then put the remaining chip back in the community dip/sauce.  You may not have health issues but those around you may not know that.  Leaving traces of your saliva in and around the food is never cool.  And while we are on the topic of chips and dip, if your chip breaks off in the dip, please use a spoon to get said chip out.
  • Keep Your Hands Out Of The Bag. Whether you have washed your hands or not, as a courtesy, refrain from putting your hands in bags of chips, veggies, or whatever food comes in a bag.  Just pour a portion onto a napkin or plate to enjoy.  The same concept goes for breath mints, gum, candy and any other food that is not individually wrapped.
  • Clean Up After Yourself.  Enjoying communal food and drink might be confined to a common area such as a kitchen or empty room, cubicle or office.  You might even grab and go back to your desk to snack and work in private.  Whatever the case, clean up after yourself.  Use the trashcan and wipe up spills.  Put items away in the cabinet or fridge.  Don’t create the need for an exterminator to get rid of critters when all you have to do is clean up after yourself.
  • Don’t be a snack thief.  You know that person:  they grab 5 sandwiches, 5 bags of chips (to go with their sandwiches) 3 sodas and 10 cookies and stash all of it for later.  Then they go back for the portion they are going to in the moment, meanwhile no one else has had a chance to get anything to eat.  But that isn’t you.  It’s your colleague.  Anyway, be courteous and save some food for someone else.  Or at least wait until everyone has gotten their portion to go back for more.  And again, please don’t hoard, especially if you did not contribute by giving money or bringing any of the treats.

This non-exhaustive list isn’t necessarily about being a germaphobe but can fall in line with common courtesy and providing a safer, cleaner environment in which one can enjoy food and community.  When all else fails, if you are unsure of how food has been handled, just steer clear.  If you are around during the initial set up, you are safe to grab your portion before everyone else gets to it.

What has been your experience when eating in a communal office setting?  Share your tips on how you keep office snacking fun and safe.