Please Stop the Stench
The office is a very diverse environment. There are people of all different nationalities, ethnicity, upbringings, and pay scale. This unfortunately comes with its own consequences. In some cases, the consequences can affect your surrounding cubicle neighbors. Case in point – people stink.
Obviously not all offices are the same, but I find it hard to believe that I’m the only person who has a co-worker that keeps general hygiene off their priority list. They are always easy to spot, based on the absence of an iron, hair that screams, “I don’t shower regularly”, and desks straight from A&E’s show Hoarders.
Yesterday I was returning to my cubicle when I noticed a strange smell. The strange smell was a mix between cigarette smoke, body odor, and dirty diapers. A combination not fit for the office (or the Bronx Zoo). This awful smell was extremely distracting; causing quite the stir. Bad work days are only exacerbated by a stench of this scale. The culprit needed to be confirmed, even considering the answer was apparent. A simple waft on a walk-by was all that was needed. At this point, we were all desperate to move forward and put an end to the torture.
That being said, what can an office do to alert the offenders? A few simple things such as laundry, soap, and a shower can go a long way in these situations but this conversation with the culprit can be a difficult and awkward task.
In an attempt to put an end to this, a few ideas were passed around that could be implemented to alert the smelly co-worker of his problem (starting with least-offensive to most-offensive).
In a loud voice, ask “What’s that Smell?”
This idea was actually implemented in my office without much success. Asking another co-worker in a louder than usual voice near the co-worker seems like an easy kill. Ignorance is bliss. The culprit in theory, should be aware of his own smell but this is not the case in my office. Yelling, “What’s that smell”, provided lackluster results.
Send them on an unsuspecting Scavenger Hunt
The fact that a co-worker who smells will usually have a messy desk is no surprise. This can actually be considered a benefit. The next time you are out, pick-up a few sticks of deodorant. One morning, get to work early and hide the deodorant sticks under papers and in their drawers. They are bound to find a stick at some point, awkwardly realize they didn’t buy the deodorant, and hopefully move forward with their lives – now in a deodorant-wearing fashion.
Change their Background
A picture is worth a thousand words. At this point, the offender isn’t listening or finding the deodorant. It’s a lost cause that requires a bold move. I suggest changing their background to something that “suggests” maybe taking a shower. The image would look a little something like this:
We all take for granted an office that doesn’t smell. Throw someone into the mix who stinks and it now becomes impossible to focus on work. Fortunately, there are infinite possibilities on alerting a co-worker about their hygiene at the office. Please take the time to share any suggestions or stories that changed a co-workers life. And by change, I mean, they started taking showers.