“If I Never Use the Office Kitchen, Can I Get Out of Cleaning it Forever?”

No. You can’t.

Photo credit: Alan Levine, CC BY 2.0.

Yesterday’s Ask A Manager made me rageLOL:

why should I have to help clean the office kitchen when I never use it? – Ask a Manager

Two people wrote in to say that their offices rotate kitchen cleanup among the employees—which is a totally normal thing—but since these letter writers never use the kitchen, or only use the kitchen to to get a cup of coffee, they believe they should be exempt from kitchen duty. After all, it’s not their mess!

I will quote just one line of these two hilarious letters:

Is there a way you would recommend dealing with this? I have already refused to clean but thought there might be a better way of dealing with the situation.

Ya think?

The second letter writer is more sympathetic—the stench from the office refrigerator aggravates migraines, and it’s reasonable to ask if there is a different way to help out—but the first LW is absolutely Ayn Randian in the assertion that if one walks quietly into the kitchen and pours a cup of coffee without spilling a single drop, one is therefore removed from the obligation of ever having to do any additional cleaning.

To which I ask: What about the coffeepot? That needs cleaning. The coffeemaker could probably use a wipedown too. If there are coffee filters that need to be put back in a cupboard so that a counter can be cleaned, that’s related to your cup of coffee. And the coworker who accidentally knocked a few coffee grounds onto the kitchen floor while making the pot of coffee and didn’t clean it up? Sure, that’s not “your mess,” but you still drank from that pot. Help out.

This doesn’t have much to do with money, except for the part where refusing to clean the kitchen on principle is probably not going to get you promoted, and it certainly won’t give you any career opportunities. You could say this is one of those “you have to be a team player” deals, except it’s more than that: if you use shared resources, whether you’re a roommate or a partner or an employee, you are partly responsible for the maintenance of those resources. (I have a lot of feelings about this.)

And yes, as Alison Green notes, employers draw up kitchen rotas so they can save on the cost of hiring someone to clean the kitchen. But it’s the world we live in, so do your kitchen duty.

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