So what is the top office space gripe among UK workers?
According to a new study commissioned by Ainsley Harriott Cup Soup, noisy eating in the office really gets under the skin of employees.
More than 57 per cent of workers surveyed by the firm said this was the most annoying trait among their co-workers.
Next on the list was messy colleagues (32 per cent), with many workers eager to keep the office environment spic and span where possible.
Another major bugbear – cited by 27 per cent of survey respondents – is when employees use crockery and cutlery but fail to wash up after each themselves.
This was another of the food-related gripes recorded by the survey, which offers insight into the things that wind office workers up on a daily basis.
Bringing smelly food into the office (26 per cent), lateness (26 per cent), and a failure to listen (25 per cent) were also highlighted as being key concerns.
Also raised as a common annoyance was people talking over conversation (23 per cent).
David Cherrie, marketing controller of Ainsley Harriott Cup Soup, said it was interesting to see that food-related bugbears featured so prominently in the list.
He noted that many people are less concerned about ‘professional’ annoyances such as not being listened to, and being talked over.
“We’re all too cowardly to confront each other, meaning our working relationships could be suffering over what are basically poor table manners,” Mr Cherrie stated.
Employers may wish to bear this point in mind, and consider reminding their workers about appropriate codes of behaviour in the office.
Creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable can help ensure all workers are able to work to the best of their ability.
Noisy offices ‘are grating on business employees’
For employers eager to maximise office productivity, getting the business environment right is a key priority.
If workers are comfortable with conditions in the office, the chances are they will find it easier to concentrate and work effectively without distraction.
As such, many employers have invested significant time and money redesigning their offices to create the right ambience.
Many have ditched cubicles in favour of open-plan working areas, while modifications may have been made to the temperature, lighting, ventilation and acoustics.
But as a recent study has shown, employers are facing a new difficulty when it comes to maximising the productivity of their office employees.
Research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley indicated that more than more half of office workers are dissatisfied with the level of ‘speech privacy’ they have while at work.
Noisy colleagues, incessant chatting from other areas of the office and the constant tapping of keyboards is beginning to grate on many members of the global workforce, the study showed.
The researchers questioned some 5,000 people over the past decade in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia, in a bid to establish exactly what makes office workers tick – or explode with rage.
And many, it seems, want to be able to work in an environment where they can hear themselves think, rather than spend all day being distracted by their colleagues.
“In general, people do not like the acoustics in open offices,” said John Goins, the leader of the survey, as reported by the New York Times.
“The noisemakers aren’t so bothered by the lack of privacy, but most people are not happy, and designers are finally starting to pay attention to the problem.”