Something to talk about: Gossiping tops main causes of office disputes

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Research from Brother UK, a supplier of technology solutions for business, has revealed the top five popular causes of office disputes, with gossip coming top. Over a third (34 per cent) of office workers cited gossiping about colleagues and management as the leading reason for arguments and disruption in the office.

  • Over a third (34 per cent) of office workers list gossiping as the leading cause of workplace disputes
  • Loud colleagues rank second in top five popular causes of office-place disputes, irritating 31 per cent of workers
  • Messy colleagues (27 per cent), stolen items (26 per cent) and late colleagues (26 per cent) make-up top five, ahead of undeserved promotions (25 per cent)
  • 78m working hours are lost every year as workers search for stolen items

Colleagues being too loud ranked in second place (31 per cent), with messy colleagues (27 per cent) being listed as the third most common cause of disputes. This was just ahead of stolen items (26 per cent) and late colleagues (26 per cent), which made-up the top five.

Stolen items such as stationery, sandwiches and mugs proved more irritating for office workers than colleagues being unfairly promoted (25 per cent) and disorganised workers (25 per cent), both of which sat outside the top five. 

Office workers may even feel their items were so at risk of being stolen at work, that 40 per cent of them feel the need to lock their drawers, and when things do go missing, more than a third (37 per cent) of people will spend at least an hour on average each month trying to retrieve them – that’s around 78m hours a year lost across the country*.

The poll of 1,594 office workers nationwide also found that it’s not just disputes causing chaos in the office. Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of office workers have at least four plugs under their desk, yet 71 per cent of them admit they don’t know which plug belongs to which piece of equipment - posing a major risk of accidental shutdowns and hours of lost work.

In fact, nearly a third (31 per cent) admitted to having lost work in the last year due to their computer being accidentally shut down. Of these, 38 per cent lost ten or more hours, equating to 2m workers nationally.

Phil Jones, managing director at Brother UK, said: “Offices that run most efficiently are those that get the simple things right. Many businesses focus on the big, complex solutions and lose sight of the smaller details which can make all the difference. Quick wins like labelling personal items as well as business critical wires and plugs can help avoid millions of hours of lost productivity caused by disputes among colleagues.”

Often a part of office-place disputes, the research also found that nearly a third (30 per cent) of office workers receive passive aggressive emails from colleagues at least once a month.

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