I hope we say this enough: we love hearing from you! Some of our best articles have been sparked by your tweets, comments, and suggestions. And questions! We love questions. Especially when, in answering them, we are inspired to write.
Recently we heard from Will, a startup co-founder, who is seeking advice on how to keep the office kitchen tidy, a topic that we know plagues office ninjas everywhere.
I’m working at a start-up and like many start-ups we have a fully stocked kitchen. Coming into my role the co-founder I was like “Yeah, it’s a problem that I haven’t figured out how to solve yet.” The problem being that the employees don’t always clean up after themselves in the kitchen. It is my job to keep the kitchen clean but at the same time I want to empower the other staff members to help keep it clean as well. We all use it! Do you have any advice on this?
Will, this is an age-old problem that we’re all very familiar with, and we have a few ideas to help. Keep in mind, the approaches work best when it involves the management team doing what they do best – leading by example. Ask your managers to pitch in and others will soon follow.
Ant Farm (Co-op) Approach
I once worked in an office that had voluntary “kitchen duty.” It was everyone’s responsibility to sign up for weekly kitchen duty every six to eight weeks. While all employees were expected to clean up after themselves, the kitchen monitor of the week would wipe down the counters and table, restock coffee and tea, and load/unload the dishwasher before leaving for the evening.
Everyone shared the responsibility and no one got stuck being housekeeper all the time. People were less likely to do things like leave globs of oatmeal in the sink or rings of coffee on the counter because they knew how annoying it was to clean up after others’ messes when it was their turn.
Reward Good Behavior
That’s right! Reward employees for keeping the office tidy and dishes cleaned. This pro tip came in from Meg Strauss, Operations Manager at University. In Meg’s kitchen she keeps a star board that allows staff to give themselves a star after they complete one of the following tasks; load dishes into the dishwasher, unload dishes from dishwasher, turn the dishwasher on (b/c we all know even this can be a struggle sometimes), clear dirty dishes from conference rooms/office common areas or cleaning out the coffee maker. At the end of each week, the employee with the most stars wins and Meg awards them with the “Golden Dish” and a gift card. Believe or not folks, Meg says this works. “Sometimes we have employees battling it out just so they can be awarded the infamous “Golden Dish” week after week. Side note: the Golden Dish is a plastic plate that Meg covered with gold glitter spray paint.
Call Out Bad Behavior
Another great tip from Meg Strauss is to call people out for bad kitchen behavior. And to encourage others to do so as well. “If you witness someone disrespecting the office tell them so”.
Example: If Meg watches someone leave a freshly licked peanut butter spoon on the counter you better believe she will tell them to pick it up and put it in the dishwasher…just like your mamma taught you.
All joking aside, Meg can attest to how valuable it is to be honest with your co workers; let them know it is not okay to leave messes all over the office.
Will, we hope we’ve given you some good ideas. Launching your own cleanliness program for keeping the kitchen/office clean is a tough task, but it is a great way to communicate the kind of culture and values you want for your company (no pressure!). Here’s to a future that’s free of oatmeal globs and crusty coffee cups!
How do you keep the office kitchen tidy? Have any good tips to share? Let us know! We love to hear from you.