50 Top Grumbles From Working In An Office.

I don’t know about you but I used to hate working in an office.  There is a big piece of me that thinks that the modern day existence offered by working in an office job isn’t really much if any better than in the 19th century when we were virtual slaves to tyrannical mill owners.

Some people I used to come across used to love their jobs and rave about the company they worked for.  Maybe it was just me but I worked for a succession of awful organisations, each one surpassing the previous in the dismal overall experience.

Sometimes though it isn’t just the tyrannical boss that makes out working lives a misery but rather a number of seemingly minor grievances which taken together produce a genuinely unsatisfactory working environment.

This week a large study was carried out in the U.K. to see just what it was that the typical office worker gets so worked up about. Getting a phone call when you’re just about to leave the office is THE biggest grumble. Others are frustrated by colleagues who are difficult to work with or who suck up to the boss, and also those who take credit for work they didn’t do. Unrealistic deadlines, ‘meetings about meetings’, office jargon and everyone ignoring a ringing phone can also make work life irritating. Others moan about their insensitive boss, or those who choose to micro-manage everything. Embarrassing team building exercises, having to engage in small talk and being asked to desk share are other common complaints.

Researchers also found that two thirds of people are most likely to grumble to other colleagues; one in 20 will start moaning the minute they step foot in the office. Another 15 per cent admitted they ‘whinge all day long’. But most are unlikely to do anything about their work worries – with more than two thirds owning up to the fact they wouldn’t confront a colleague who was annoying them. Another six in ten would never say anything about their ‘ridiculous workload’. Office workers are most likely to make a noise about IT going wrong, with half of those polled complaining about the state of their computer or printer. Seven in 10 admitted they often feel irritable at work, and 52 per cent say their whole working day can be ruined by just a few ‘bugbears’.

Other factors that affect how good a day is going to be include what the traffic is like on the way in (35 per cent), and how much work there is to do (43 per cent). A further quarter say their day is affected by whether or not the boss is going to be in, while 27 per cent say how early they wake up can ruin the day ahead.

Below is the complete list of the Top 50 annoyances when working in a UK office.  How many of them resonate with you?   I’m quite fortunate as have worked for myself for almost 4 years now and I can safely say that none of these factors ever crop up in my daily life 🙂

1. Getting a phone call when you’re literally about to leave the office

*I used to hate this happening.  People have all day to call, why do it when you’re running out the door.  They might as well call first thing the next morning.  People deserve to leave on time.

2. Computers being slow

*When I worked in IT I found that this sometimes it matched the user.

3. IT issues

*It’s true, generally work equipment is over-utilised and under resourced.

4. The temperature being too low/high

*This would actually be my number one complaint.  People always had the airconditioning on far to high.  It was like living in the artic.  Often we workers would shiver at 18 degrees (66F) whilst the management would spend half their time out and about but they set the temperature.  Who has aircon set at 18 degrees in the U.K.  Most people at home have their heating set for 20… it makes no sense.

5. No air conditioning

*Never ever had this as an issue.  Always had to wear jumpers and winter clothing even in heatwaves.

6. Computers crashing

*Always at the most inopportune moment too.

7. Printers jamming or breaking down

*I once worked at a very hi-tech and rather secretive environment where engineers and scientists could design the most amazing things but the printers would be too much for all of us.

8. Colleagues who are difficult to work with

*There is always one isn’t there?  Well if you are lucky.  Normally there are plenty more.  Not naming names Mrs P.

9. When someone uses your desk when you’re away and leaves it messy

*How annoying, great to come back to a messy desk with crumbs everywhere and a greasy mouse or phone.

10. Freezing cold air conditioning

*Hurrah!!  People understand my woes 🙂

11. Being in the office when the weather is lovely

*Yes, who wants to be in an office anyway?   I always worked in offices with either no windows or with small windows that I either couldn’t see.  Working in an office should be optional if the weather is nice.  Alternatively become a tour guide with me.

12. Having meetings about meetings

*I never really had a meeting that was any use whatsoever.  Usually they were held by people who had no other work to do.  But meetings about meetings??? For the love of God why?


13. People not replying to your emails

*Yet these same people are the first to get upset when you don’t reply to their email due to be in a stupid meeting.

14. When someone calls in sick when you know they aren’t ill

*It’s like a sport isn’t it?  You can just predict with some people when they will have a sickie.

15. Being copied into emails that are of no concern

*So annoying and a total waste of resources.  Doubly annoying when people reply to all on a CC email.  Slight relief can be found when you discover 98% of your emails that have come in can be deleted.

16. Colleagues who suck up to the boss

*We all know these people

17. Colleagues who talk too much

*And these too.  Usually they are also the people who are sick and who are annoying in general.

18. People who loudly complain about how busy they are

*If they just shut up and got on with their work….

19. People not saying thank you when you’ve helped them out

*This might be an English thing but if they ever did that to me then next time they would go to the back of the queue…. which is also an English thing.

20. The commute

*Always and forever did I hate my commute.  At least feudal serfs and factory workers in the old days only had to walk to the end of their village.  4 hours I would sometimes spend stuck on the motorways to do a job I hated for a company that was rubbish and a boss who was incompetent.   Now my commute is often about 10 seconds from my bed.

Commuting hell by public transport

Commuting hell by public transport London Style.

21. Someone constantly arriving late to work

*Slackers, every company has them.

22. The amount of junk mail received

*No I don’t want to attend your trade show, buy your stationery or give you an opportunity to meet with me to buy your junk.

23. People who ignore a ringing phone

*Phones are annoying so I understand this sometimes but not all the time.  I often worked where an unanswered phone would then be re-routed to others in the office and I’d often be the first to be called up.  Stupid really as I barely had a clue what was going on in my role let alone what Fred is doing.   I didn’t even know there was a Fred here!

24. Smelly food being eaten in the office

*Surely this needs a statutory warning on their personnel file.  There is no excuse for this.

25. The phone ringing constantly

*Let me do some fffing work.  Yes, you’d have had your quote if only you gave me just a single minute to complete it instead of calling allllll the time.

26. Someone taking credit for work you’ve done

*Can I introduce you to an old boss of mine who I affectionately knew as FB.  You can guess what the initials stood for.  When I wrote my first book, I used his name as characters who got killed as it inspired me to write gratuitous death scenes.

27. Having to sit in long and tedious meetings

*And it’s not like anyone ever listened to me.  In fact to be fair they rarely called upon me at all.  I distinctly remember once escaping a meeting my making my nose bleed.  I thought it was masterful, someone else called me a clever bar-steward.  It bought me 2 hours of peace and quiet and I got a lot of work done.

28. People speaking loudly

*Oh Mrs P again.  Actually this entire list could be dedicated to Mrs P.

29. Returning from holiday to hundreds of emails

*The worse of all email bombardments…. of course you often have to get past the piles of papers and strategically placed post-it notes on yur screen, mouse and keyboard first.

30. Office jargon (such as “touch base”)

*Only in one place has this been a problem and there many genuinely had no idea what was going on.  Touch base might make vague sense in the USA where I guess there are babseball bases but not in the UK.  Am I to touch the base of my stereo, the base of Nelsons Column, maybe the go to MI5 and touch their base.  How any of this will help my work is anyones guess.

31. People who leave dirty dishes in the work sink

*Hands up if the people who do this in your office are also the same as who eat smelly food?

32. Unnecessary all-staff emails

* The people who did this list obviously read my notes first.

33. Unrealistic deadlines

*The biggest problem ever.  People who didn’t have to do the work, who don’t know how to do the work or what is entailed doing it, tell you that you have 1 hour to do a 9 hour task.  And it is your problem when it isn’t ready.  FB used to do this on purpose even when the customer was happy with waiting 3 or 4 days for a 2 day job, he would want it done by the end of the working day and often didn’t tell us until 3pm.  Idiot.

34. People not cleaning the microwave when their food spills

*This is an office for heavens sake, what are people using microwaves for anyway?  Smelly food people that is who.  Sometimes I did microwave my tea several times but that was because it went cold from being too busy to drink it.

35. People who email out of normal working hours

*Then they get upset if you don’t reply there and then.  Sorry, you have a life?  Oh you can’t be committed to the company can you.  Bye.

36. Not having enough annual leave

*One place I worked, they did let you sacrifice some of your salary for up to 48 days holiday.  What a great idea.  Otherwise definitely…. and stop emailing and texting and calling on the few days we have off.

37. An insensitive boss

*Is there any other kind?   I had 1 very nice boss who I am still very good friends with, the rest were generally stinkers.  Most would be abusive and bullying.    Most thought because they were scheming low-life’s, so were their staff.

38. People not listening to you when you talk and then asking you the same question 10 minutes later


39. People who inflict their mood swings on colleagues

*Somone got out the wrong side of bed this morning.

40. An uncomfortable chair

*Sometimes this would take my mind off the whole airconditioning thing.  I found it really annoying when people would adjust the height or angle of recline on my chair.  Who asked you to sit at my desk anyway?

41. Bosses who micromanage everything

*Oh I could name names.

42. Bad phone signal

*No, never a problem.  Generally we were never allowed personal phone calls.  Those that ignored the ruling were generally annoying and we were glad their phones cut out.  I always remember when Mrs P got upset after spending 5 minutes asking stupid questions to her 2 year old grand daughter that the child then put the phone down.  “She hung up on me” screamed Mrs P.  What do you expect when the kid is nicknamed Munch?   Sooner or later that child was going to outgrow you intellectually and as a human being.  I’m just surprised it took 2 years.

43. The office gossip

*Ok, I won’t mention Mrs P again.  Office gossip can surely be so salubrious because office work is so mind numbingly boring and pointless.  What do all these spreadsheets even do anything?  Go and build a wall or plant a field and do something useful!

44. People who expect the cleaners to tidy up all their mess

*So cleaners are paid to clean but most adults understand this is to empty bins, hoover or polish the floor etc just taking care of general day to day dirt issues.  Why would anyone act like a slob just to make someones else’s life more difficult?

45. Someone stealing your favourite mug

*Never had one.  Always drank water.

46. Having to desk share or ‘hot desk’

*That would drive me nuts too.

47. Embarrassing teambuilding exercises

*Thankfully I never had one.  I think it was because my organisations either didn’t care or realised it was a lost cause.    I did always make a point of declining work parties, Christmas dinners or impromptu evening get-togethers, particularly from a boss.  You’ve spent all day/year making my very existence a living hell… I am never going to attend anywhere with you outside this office.  I don’t care if it shows you up to the other bosses. Be nicer day to day and I might have considered it.

48. Having to engage in small talk

*This whole list is giving me Mrs P flashbacks.

49. Colleagues who don’t shower regularly enough

*Maybe this is why the aircon is so cold. It makes it harder to smell them.

50. Someone leaving their chair out in the middle of the aisle

*If this is anyone’s major annoyance at work then you’re not paying attention…. must be a boss.





About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Funny & Humour, Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 50 Top Grumbles From Working In An Office.

  1. Graham says:

    We Brits are just a moaning lot really. 😄 I think work would be great if it weren’t ruined by other people doing stuff we didn’t like. I do believe that most frustrations would be eased if people learned to be better communicators.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jml297 says:

    Brilliant list and I enjoyed reading your experiences too. There are global commonalities and I suspect there are similar gripes in workplaces all over the place! Laughed out loud at people bringing their mood swings into the office and the impact of oblivious co-workers and bosses. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ankur Mithal says:

    As this is one of my favourite topics, had saved this one for a leisurely read at some point. Finally got to it. Great collection. Your observations against each make them juicier.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great list. I can relate to so many points 🙂 However, I don’t want to miss my office and colleagues. Some of my colleagues who work from home really never know what’s going on in the office and they miss so many funny situations, too.


  5. Pingback: National Sickie Day – Good and stupid reasons to take a day off work. | Stephen Liddell

Leave a Reply to Graham Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s