Image: Katty Voss.

Communal kitchens can be scary places. The office environment is high on the list of shared kitchens that can have very loose, or non-existent, cleaning schedules (second only to university share houses and the dreaded backpacker hostel). An office kitchen without a clearly defined cleaning roster is a recipe for disaster, and can contribute to growing workplace health issues here in Australia.

It’s not very motivating  to walk into work first thing in the morning, eager for a cup of coffee, and discover someone’s half eaten lunch on the bench, all the spoons still unwashed in the sink, and the inside of the microwave decorated with the remnants of a nuclear lasagna explosion.

A little bit of effort goes a long way when it comes to office kitchen cleaning. Employees deserve to be able to take a break and prepare meals and beverages in a clean, well maintained environment. It requires everyone to pitch in, help out and a good plan of attack to bring it into fruition. Here are a few tips to make it happen:

  • Divide up the tasks by how often they need to be completed, e.g. 
    • Taking out the rubbish – Daily
    • Cleaning the coffee machine – Daily
    • Sweep and mop floor – Weekly
    • Dust windowsills – Monthly  
  • Involve your team in this step, as they are the ones who will be able to identify the problem areas.
  • Map out the kitchen into distinct sections when dividing up tasks and creating a cleaning timetable. A series of small achievable tasks are much easier to manage than one big one and it will prevent overloading one person unfairly.
  • When delegating tasks, make sure you keep everyone on a rotational cycle so they see all the different tasks that go into a clean office kitchen. This means employees won’t get annoyed that they are stuck with the a certain job, while others get off lightly. Plus, it’s good to stay fresh!
  • Keep the cleaning roster in view and access of everyone. “Forgetting” shouldn’t be an excuse. Encourage people to own the tasks they are assigned, take pride in their work and sign off on a job well done.
  • If you need to step things up a notch when it comes to food being left in the fridge, try the Friday 4pm mandatory throw out. Anything and everything that remains in the fridge at the end of the week (apart from unopened, non-perishables). Send yourself an email reminder
  • In the interest of keeping things fair and democratic, try to avoid dishing out any special treatment, or letting people off lightly. If people want to use the kitchen, they need to be responsible for cleaning it.
  • Keep a shopping list of cleaning supplies, so everyone has access to the exactly what they need to do the job properly.

Try using this downloadable office cleaning template, or use it as inspiration to create your own.

Above all, remember to clearly communicate the importance of everyone participating and respecting the kitchen cleaning schedule. This way everyone will be able to enjoy a nice, clean environment to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the workplace.