Autocratic bosses and know-it-all desk neighbours are a classic, but the office complaints chart contains a weird and wonderful assortment of idiosyncrasies.

Some people can’t stand corporate jargon in meetings and “thinking outside the box” is the most hated expression. Some people complain about colleagues’ poor bathroom etiquette or even get annoyed about their company’s “excessive focus” on workplace health and safety

A sample of 1,836 office workers didn’t fail to deliver surprises either in the top-ranking complaints in a chart compiled by British insight agency Opinium on elements, things or attitudes that annoy people during work hours.

At the top of the chart, the most complained-about are grumpy or moody colleagues, while “computers too slow” is the second cause of dissatisfaction in the office, clocking up 36% of responses.

A certain IT giant wanted a clear picture of the situation and in 2018 commissioned and published a specific study on frustration caused by technology in SMEs. Confirmation was thus delivered: problems linked to computers and similar devices are a primary source of complaints from office staff. What with programs that freeze, slow connections and email arriving in fits and starts, we might be wasting on average 27 minutes a day. The study concludes that obsolete, inefficient tech harms productivity in the office even more than having chatty or noisy colleagues (22 minutes lost every day) or an uncomfortable workstation (19 minutes wasted).

Sir Cary L. Cooper of Manchester University and one of the top experts in workplace wellbeing was invited to comment on the study.

Whatever your office annoyance is, recommends the professor, sort it out immediately. Work out possible solutions and talk to your managers at work about them. Otherwise, stress is likely to build up. For an immediate counter-offensive the advice is to split the working day up into a few short breaks wherever possible: the professor’s opinion is that, far from lowering productivity, breaks reduce tensions caused by everyday micro-annoyances. To encourage this anti-stress practice, Sir Cooper has a very British suggestion: set up a tea station in the office.

The top 10 office annoyances

  1. Grumpy or moody colleagues (37%)
  2. Slow computers (36%)
  3. Small talk/ gossip in the office (19%)
  4. Office jargon or management speak (18%)
  5. People speaking loudly on the telephone (18%)
  6. Too much health and safety in the workplace (16%)
  7. Poor toilet etiquette (16%)
  8. People not turning up for meetings on time or at all (16%)
  9. People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen (15%)
  10. Too cold / cold air-conditioning (15%)

Source: Opinium 2010 research – Top workplace annoyances