National Survey Reveals Cubicle Conflict, Temperature Tantrums at Corporate Offices

Colleagues Clash over Temps, Last Cup of Coffee, and Even Singing and Stealing Lunches!

Earlier this year, we conducted a series of customer and employee surveys to evaluate our brand identity and value proposition. The results were amazing – they helped us develop a new logo, change our tagline and revitalize our brand identity. And that got us thinking – how else can we use surveys?   What else can we learn?

Well, we decided to get creative this summer over at OpenWorks and decided to ask hundreds of American workers around the country about office habits, temperature settings and their workplace preferences. And wow – did we stumble upon a gold mine as a leading national franchise offering commercial cleaning and integrated facility solutions services. We were looking for a little inside scoop and these employees let it all hang out!

I’m sure few franchise CEOs realize that many of their employees fight at work over much more than promotions. In fact, the national survey we conducted revealed more than half of American employees battle co-workers over office cleanliness and temperature settings.  And when things don’t go their way, these same employees will secretly change the temperature, persuade the person in charge to do it, or directly confront their colleagues about their annoying and disgusting behavior. Talk about conflict in the cubicles!

And that’s just the beginning. This national survey of more than 300 American workers aged 25-55 revealed so much more. Here are the three most powerful takeaways that can provide franchise CEOs with a little bit of insight into what gets their employees fired up:

Takeaway #1 – Tempers Flare over Temps!

  • More than ½ (56%) of respondents said conflict occurs over cleanliness and office temperatures.
  • The biggest source of this conflict? Fiery females and disruptive dudes fighting for their version of the ideal temperature.While more than 3 in 5 men (61%) prefer an office set at 70 or below, nearly 40% of women prefer 72 or higher.
  • More than 3 in 5 (61%) respondents change the temperature without permission and more than 2 in 3 (68%) persuade the person in charge to do it for them.

Takeaway #2 – Poor Kitchen Habits Stir the Pot

  • Respondents shared the top 5 most annoying habits – they were:

○      Demand a temperature that is too hot or too cold

○      Take the last cup of coffee without starting a new pot

○      “Forget” to clean the coffee pot

○      Leave dishes in the office sink

○      Leave food in the fridge until it goes bad

  • They provided some revealing write-ins, too. Other annoying habits include “singing”, “getting too much time off,” “burping and snorting loudly,” and “stealing lunches.”
  • And don’t think people get away with it – Workers feel no shame about speaking up either.  3 in 5 respondents have considered confronting, or have actually confronted, their colleagues about bad behavior.

And Takeaway #3 – Generations Clash Over Clean

The survey shows that unclean and uncomfortable offices can cost business owners young employees as millennials say said they’d quit their jobs and take pay cuts for a cleaner and more comfortable office setting. Not so for the older crowd.

  • More than ½ (55%) of Millennials say they would consider taking a little less pay for an office setting at the perfect temperature and cleanliness level. Only 1 in 4 Baby Boomers said the same.
  • When compared to Baby Boomers, twice as many Millennials said they’d quit a job because the office was messy and unclean. Nearly three times as many said they’d quit if the office temperature wasn’t set the way they like.

And one last thing – perhaps most importantly, more than half (51%) of American workers, regardless of age, say their office is so unclean, they use a paper towel or handkerchief to open doors.

To me, these survey responses prove just how important it is to maintain a clean and comfortable office environment. And we recently revamped our business model to include full-service integrated facility solutions to help business owners make facility maintenance and cleanliness a top priority. At OpenWorks, we can help business owners and executives create office environments specific to the needs of employers and their employees because we can handle everything from temperature control to HVAC services to plumbing to comprehensive commercial cleaning.

The bottom line is that the world is changing and young employees are unwilling to compromise their health and well-being for a bigger paycheck. The employers who adapt and make health, safety and cleanliness a priority in their offices will be the ones who recruit and retain the top talent in their industry. If you’re interested in creating a gameplan to diffuse these office conflicts over temperature and cleanliness, give us a call so we can lend a helping hand!

OpenWorks’ Executive VP David Bosley joined the OpenWorks team in June 2013 as the Division Vice President for the Midwest Region. Since then he has been promoted to Executive Vice President. He is responsible for the business development sales, operations and franchise maturity for OpenWorks. His expertise includes corporate strategy and leadership, business development, strategic selling and operations.

Prior to joining OpenWorks David spent 10 years in executive leadership roles with Fortune 200 companies that include Enterprise Leasing, AT&T and ADP. David is a member with BOMA and IFMA.

David is a graduate of the University of Denver where he accomplished his Bachelors and Masters in Business Administration from the Daniels School of Business.

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