It's tempting to think that your duties at work only include what you're being paid for, but that's just not true. As a co-worker, you share certain "gratis" housekeeping responsibilities with everyone else. Your duties might be extensive or minimal -- depending on whether your boss employs an after-hours cleaning crew -- but either way, they can be summarized in four words: Clean up behind yourself.
You probably have seen that sign, “Your mother doesn’t work here.” Well, it's true -- she doesn't -- which means you should wipe off the break room table when you’re finished eating so your co-workers don’t have to set up their lunch in your puddle of crumbs. And unless the staff takes turns washing dishes, or you have a cleaning person who does it, rinse off your own cups, plates and silverware. The same thing goes for spills and messes of all kinds -- your oopsies are your responsibility.
Heating and Cooling
Housekeeping rules at work must extend to the refrigerator and microwave, to maintain a sanitary, resentment-free workplace. Don’t fill the refrigerator with smelly foods and then leave them to rot. All food should be tossed out at the end of the week, no matter who left it or when. Monday should always be a fresh start. Wipe down the fridge shelves frequently to get ahead of any sticky spills or lingering smells. The same goes for the microwave. If your raviolis explode, clean them up. The microwave shouldn’t have a meal’s worth of food on the walls. You remember that your mom doesn’t work here, right?
Clean Your Desk
Your teacher’s been telling you the same thing since the second grade and it still applies - clean off your desk. No one’s trying to tell you how to run your life, and you might find a certain creative inspiration in the midst of your clutter, but keep in mind the office belongs to everyone, and to most people, mess equals mayhem. The workplace should be orderly. Contribute to the collective sanity of your coworkers and keep it neat.
You probably have people who come in and clean the bathroom, but you still need to do your part between cleanings. Check the sink for hair, soap, toothpaste, food and anything else you might have left behind, and wipe up any remnants you've left behind. Always double check to make sure you flushed properly, since you don’t want to leave surprises for anyone else. If you use the last of the toilet paper, replace it. And, wash your hands every time.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.