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Office Odors

Office Odors

Office odors are not a small problemWhat to do About Office Odors

It may not be an issue that is commonly discussed – perhaps some may find that it isn’t exactly politically correct – but the fact remains that office odors make your work environment unpleasant, and there must be something that can be done to make life a little bit better.

There are many different kinds of office odors, and it is up to the company to deal either with each malodorous offense separately, or to create an overall policy to cover all nose-curlers at once. 

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Office Odors

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I work for a small company (27 employees). My department has three people including me. My supervisor and the other employee in the department are best friends. I am not included in things they do, which is okay, because they d...
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To be able to manage the issue of office odors, it is important to first understand the different ways that they may present themselves. They often include:

Food smells

Different people like different foods, and whether the person across from you has an egg salad sandwich that has been warming under her desk all morning, or the guy in the next cubical enjoys anything with onion and garlic piled on it, the result can easily make anyone lose their appetites.  This problem can be at least partially resolved by prohibiting food other than beverages in the work environment.  A lunchroom can be used to contain all of those unruly food odors.

Product smells

Just because you think that your perfume smells incredible doesn’t mean that your neighbor will.  With all of the different scents that we wear in a day, including perfume, cologne, body washes and sprays, hair products such as gels and sprays, lotions, and even deodorants, the end results can be quite overwhelming.  If products are becoming an issue in the workplace, declare it a perfume-free zone.  This is becoming extremely popular in many schools and offices with cubicles where large numbers of people share the same space.  It started in hospitals, but the benefits of such a policy were quickly recognized and encouraged in other shared areas.  Just about everything is available in “unscented” these days, and should be encouraged in order to create a more livable space.

Personal body odor

This is often the most challenging to control, because personal hygiene can be a sensitive issue to discuss among many people.  After all, who wants to be told that they stink?  However, if you share an office with somebody who goes to the gym – but not the shower – at lunch time, or if someone feels that they just don’t need deodorant, the issue of smelly coworkers quickly becomes something that needs to be dealt with – right now.  With this situation, it is often best that a supervisor be told, so that s/he can carefully and privately discuss the issue with the individual in question. 

Cigarette smoke

A no smoking office will take care of a lot of the odor, and by making sure that all smokers take their dirty little habit outside, the wind will blow away most of the offending smell. 

It isn’t enough just to complain loudly or to simply sit there and try to “take it”.  When it comes to an issue such as office odors, something needs to be done, or the situation – and the odor – will only get worse.


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