You Stink: The Smells That Don't Belong in the Office
They are talking olfactory, not work quality, and attention to smells has ramped up as more companies adopt open floor plans where walls are few , private offices are scarce and suddenly every private smell can become public domain. Upping this ante is that offices just about everywhere ban smoking and, years ago, smoke covered up most office smells. No more.
Now the office air is raw , naked, and we believe the smell should be neutral. Heaven help the offenders. Sometimes they even get fired.
Quietly burp at your desk after eating a street hot dog with sauerkraut and, guess what, everybody in the office knows what you ate, and your co-workers all wish you'd stuffed your face with a few slices of plain Wonder Bread instead.
The plain fact: we now work in odor-free environments , said business etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey. "We are all more sensitized to odors than we used to be," she said.
You want to know how to get fired because of smells ?
Kathi Elster, a principal in workplace consultants K Squared Enterprises in Manhattan, spoke of an employee who daily microwaved fish for breakfast.
Understand this: microwaving fish sets off an odiferous bomb that lingers throughout the work day. So she was fired.
Elster elaborated: "She was warned several times, and she ignored it. Clearly there were other work issues, but her insistence on warming up fish for breakfast every day was the final straw. Honestly it was a horror. I know this sounds unbelievable, but it's not."
Termination typically is not the outcome of workplace odors. But a good talking to from the boss or HR results more often than you might think.
Personal body odors are a case in point.
"A lot of my coworkers either jog or bike to work even though there are no showers," said Philip Tomlinson, a marketing specialist with an e-commerce site that focuses on athletic gear. "One employee actually had to be told by the boss to wash his pits in the sink, because it was distracting the other co-workers."
After microwaved fish and body odor, there's a long list of - obvious - smells not to bring into the office. Kimchi - fermented, pickled cabbage, a Korean staple - is a prime example. Ditto for just about anything dosed with garlic. Curries also win loud complaints from those with sensitive sniffers.
Also on the banned list is nuoc mam pha - aka Vietnamese fish sauce made of fermented fish.