Office fridge etiquette: A guide to sharing and caring

The office fridge – an infinite supply of your colleague’s favourite foods and, despite its cooling powers, an appliance with the ability to make your blood boil. The first rule of office fridge use at many work places seems to be you don’t talk about office fridge use, but you should. These 7 tips will improve everyone’s workday!

If you work in an office with a shared fridge, you have most probably experienced at least one of these issues: Abandoned food most probably from last year’s lunch buffet. Lunch bags the size of smart cars containing a small container of soup blocking entire shelves. That salad you’ve been looking forward to all day: Gone. And that smell that makes you question your life choices every time you open that little shop of horrors: the office fridge. We’ve come up with 7 tips that should make it easy for everyone to get along and maximise the use of the office fridge.

Tip 1: Treat the available space like a parking lot

Diane from digital marketing brought her salad in a small lunch bag, while Jordan from accounting filled up the fridge with enough food items to survive the first few weeks of a zombie apocalypse. Be like Diane! Unless you are buying everyone lunch, which obviously makes you the office hero. Or you have ACTUAL proof that zombie apocalypse is imminent, take up minimal space and ensure everyone who wants to use the fridge has a fair chance.

Tip 2: Clean up after yourself

First things first, no one is upset because you spilled or dropped something. It happens to all of us, especially clumsy Pete from purchasing. It’s because you think it is someone else’s responsibility to clean up after yourself that makes it an issue worthy of a STOMP feature. Just clean it up and don’t rely on that one brave colleague that will ultimately be so disgusted by what you have allowed to grow inside the fridge – they end up cleaning it for you.

Tip 3: There’s no “Auto Clean” mode

At least not yet. Your fridge at home? Looks so pristine and always well stocked with fresh food items because someone else in your household is taking care of it. Which leads to the point, if you DO think cleaning your own fridge makes sense and is vital – what’s stopping you from applying that same logic to the office fridge? Unless there’s someone permanently responsible for cleaning the fridge, make a monthly rota so everyone gets that feeling of having made the work space just a little bit better.

Also, we’ll keep working on that auto clean mode. “Promise”!

Tip 4: Adieu, abandoned food

The office fridge is not a time capsule. Okay, let’s be serious for a moment: That experiment that’s happening in the plastic container in the back of the upper shelf? Might actually be a health risk! So have a rule: any abandoned food items should be removed and binned ASAP.

Hey, we can all be forgetful with the stress the workday puts on us, but don’t come crying to us when your special edition Star Wars lunch bag from 1977 that you found on eBay and paid a ridiculous amount of money for was thrown in the trash because it had grown ACTUAL tentacles.

Tip 5: Hands off your colleagues’ food

Yes, the rumour is true! Kate from Logistics is married to a chef and the food is extremely SHIOK!!! Unless Kate offers, it’s hers to enjoy – not yours. The fact that it said ‘Kate’s Lunch” on it should have been a giveaway. The fact that you are also called Kate is really not an excuse. Though yes, we can see how not having brought lunch and suddenly having food with your name on it in the fridge can be confusing.

Do you ever feel bad for those kids in the Jimmy Kimmel Halloween candy videos? This is EVERYONE whose slice of pizza you’ve ever eaten or whose last can of the drink not available in the vending machine you’ve had. Apply Wheaton’s Law!

Tip 6: Be generous when appropriate

You’ve brought the leftovers from that amazing dinner last night, but everyone is going to the newly opened shop that sells really good curry noodles! And well, who are you to pass that up? There’s an easy way to avoid the whole creating new life forms in the back of the fridge scenario. Just offer to share your food to a colleague during tea break or take it home with you. Just really, really, really, don’t let it sit there until you get back from that awesome 14 day cruise you’re leaving for tomorrow.

Tip 7: Make the office fridge experience cool again

Of course, you can just plaster the stainless steel door with those passive aggressive messages everyone is laughing at. You can also take matters in your own hands and come up with a list of sanctions that benefit everyone! Those who do not obey office fridge etiquette can be made to pay for the next coffee and donuts run or be made to clean the fridge next. The office fridge user of the month, on the other hand, can be treated to his favourite food or get prime shelf space.