October 29, 2007 / 9:09 PM / in 10 years

Gossip, e-mailing "all" among top office peeves

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Work colleagues who spend their day gossiping, organizing their home lives, or who press “reply all” on e-mails are among the biggest nuisances in the office, according to a survey released on Monday.

A poll on the biggest pet peeves in the workplace by market researcher Harris Interactive found 60 percent of 2,429 U.S. respondents listed gossip as the biggest annoyance.

The online survey, conducted for staffing firm Randstad USA, found the second biggest peeve at 54 percent was poor time management which included people making personal phones calls at work or surfing the Internet during work time.

Messiness in communal spaces, such as unwashed dishes in the kitchen sinks, irked 45 percent of respondent while potent smells like perfume, food, or smoke, came in fourth in the list with 42 percent.

Rounding out the list of seven office peeves came loud noises such as speaker phones, loud talking and loud phone ring tones at 41 percent, overuse of electronic personal communications devices in meetings at 28 percent and misuse of e-mail at 22 percent.

Eric Buntin, managing director of marketing and operations for Randstad, said the survey indicated people had not changed their behavior as office layouts changed, becoming more open, so people heard colleagues talking and knew more about their home lives.

“If you were sitting in your office with the door closed no one would be able to hear you unless you were very loud but if you open the door then people hear everything, blurring the lines between personal and work lives,” Buntin told Reuters.

“People are not taking into account that the workplace is very open now and they need to think about that interaction with their colleagues.”

He said the misuse of e-mail was among the top peeves, with people particularly irritated when people e-mailed to “reply all” on an e-mail unnecessarily, or used blind carbon copying (bcc).

“And people who think e-mail is private? No e-mail is private. Everyone knows if they are bcc-ing an e-mail it is like standing up and shouting fire in the middle of a building,” he said.

But when it came to taking action against the offending colleagues, people were not so willing to act.

About 42 percent said they would say something directly to a person being too loud but only 34 percent would raise their concerns about gossiping and only 25 percent address a person directly about misuse of e-mail.

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