The workplace fridge – a daytime nightmare

August 24, 2016

I wouldn’t clean out a workplace fridge unless I was wearing a hazmat suit and had a letter of approval from the World Health Organisation

What do you think is the worst thing about the workplace? It’s a hotly contested issue as there are so many repellent things to choose from:

  • People eating fish curry at their desk;
  • Bad personal hygiene;
  • Workplace psychopaths…

I could go on, but I think you’ll find it’s the workplace fridge.

I was at the dentist the other day—the mothership of old magazines—reading the US version of Men’s Health from 2010, and there was an article about how bad the workplace fridge is for your health. This is a truly universal problem. No workplace is immune from it.

Occupational hazard

Do you remember when I worked in the brothel? One night the girls were bitching about how gross their fridge was and let’s be honest, these women know what constitutes disgusting.

Not a lot surprises me but I did raise my eyebrows when one of the girls said “that fridge is toxic – I wouldn’t touch anything inside it!”  Really? In your line of work, you won’t touch anything inside that mankey fridge? That spoke volumes to me.

It’s been an issue in every workplace I’ve been in. I wouldn’t put my lunch in workplace fridge if you paid me and I wouldn’t clean one out unless I was wearing a hazmat suit and had letter of approval from the World Health Organisation.

Home versus work fridge

For me, being OCD with my cleanliness and a former professional cleaning lady, I do have to question why in the workplace (and also in motels) some people do things they would never do in their own homes. Is it because of the knowledge that it’s not your responsibility to clean up after yourself?

I’ve mentioned before about my weekend job in high school as a domestic at my Dad’s motel. I saw things no 14-year-old girl should see delivering breakfast trays to rooms.

But getting back to nauseating work fridges, they can actually make you sick. The more stuff you pack in the fridge, the harder it is for the cool air to circulate and refrigerate the food properly. Not to mention all the stuff people put in there and forget about. And don’t even get me started on expired dairy food.

The fridge notes

The horror of the work refrigerator does give rise to another universally loathed workplace issue – the passive-aggressive (or sometimes just plain aggressive) notes that then get stuck on the fridge. That’s a whole other column.

Years ago I was at a workplace “love-in” where we spent the day brainstorming about things we could improve, the application of innovative ideas blah blah blah… and what did we spend one whole session on? Car parking and the kitchen which people REFUSED to clean despite the roster.

One terribly helpful guy (you know the one – they exist in every workplace) said he was not employed to clean up and would rather throw the plates/glasses/cutlery in the bin than clean them. Management responded by furnishing the kitchen with plastic cups, plates, cutlery so we resolved the problem of the messy kitchen at untold cost to the environment.

My fridge policy

My advice on the work fridge is to have a policy where people are responsible for their own food stuffs and clean out the fridge every fortnight.

People will ignore this policy and nothing will change.

The End

Alexandria Bernard on BloggerAlexandria Bernard on Twitter
Alexandria Bernard
With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.

Alex's voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.