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6 fridge-sharing rules for a happy office

If you work in an office with a number of colleagues or even other companies, it may be necessary to lay down the law when it comes to your communal fridge…

Communal spaces are common in modern offices, be it break out space or somewhere everyone can get together for lunch. While these spaces are usually relaxed and care-free, the communal fridge is a different matter – causing office arguments and becoming the home for anonymous passive aggressive notes.

Here are some basic guidelines that will hopefully prevent disputes arising.

1. Use common courtesy
The main tip when dealing with any communal office space is common courtesy – but often people tend to forget this when dealing with food.

Put simply, if you don’t want other people drinking your milk, don’t drink theirs.

Lead by example and don’t start stealing other people’s food or taking a bit of their milk. If you publicly set the standards and follow them, it’ll become less acceptable for others to break the rules.

2. Label everything
You can assume that some people are going to eventually break the rules. To make it harder to break the rules, encourage people to label everything they put in the fridge with their name, department or company – this should put an end to ‘accidental’ mix ups where someone eats another person’s banana.

Also consider making it clear what’s in any unspecified containers or packages and maybe even write on them the date when you put the item in the fridge. This makes it easier to identify what’s potentially old and mouldy food and what’s fresh when the big fridge clean up comes around.

3. Keep it clean
Speaking of cleaning, it’s important someone takes responsibility for cleaning communal fridges. A weekly clean should be enough for general tidiness, removing any leftover food, out of date milk and empty packages.

But people should also be encouraged to tidy up after themselves. Any spillages should be wiped up straight away while empty cartons, boxes or jars should be removed when finished and not left for someone else to deal with.

4. One warning then out
When it comes to food that looks like it’s going off or has been in the fridge for a long period with no one claiming ownership, run a one warning and you’re out policy.

If you’ve got an email list use this to warn people, or simply attach a note to the item in question saying if it’s not claimed or removed by a certain date, then it will be binned.

5. Only use space you need
Communal fridge space can often mean you’ve got one or two fridges for dozens of people. This puts shelf space at a premium.

Don’t put everything food-related in the fridge – if it doesn’t need to be kept cool, don’t put it in, fruit is an example. And don’t put a whole week’s worth of lunches in the fridge – store them at home and bring them in daily.

6. Flag up when running low
Finally, if you do share things like milk then make sure you flag up to whoever’s job it is to replace them when items are running low.

If you don’t you could end up in the situation whereby someone on a tea run finds there’s no milk left for their department – and so ‘borrows’ someone else’s…