Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: BeagleMommy on May 03, 2013, 02:57:32 PM

Title: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: BeagleMommy on May 03, 2013, 02:57:32 PM
I've posted before about the one person in my office who has hoarding tendencies.  Many of us have had to go to the director, or he's brought it up to her himself, about the mess and odor coming from her office.  She'll clean up (somewhat) and sooner or later it reverts to the same mess.  Unfortunately, the mess does not affect her job performance so we can't get HR involved.  Apparently you're allowed to be completely slovenly and it can't be mentioned on your performance review.  Even housekeeping refuses to touch anything in her office.

Her office has a sour smell.  It's nauseating if you have to spend any time in her office.  The big problem now is that the odor is starting to cling to her clothing.  Whenever she walks by I get a whiff of that sour smell.  I'm not sure if this is something I can bring up to the director or not.  Help!
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: TurtleDove on May 03, 2013, 02:58:45 PM
I would take it to HR because it is affecting YOUR job performance.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: MrTango on May 03, 2013, 03:05:16 PM
Even if it's not affecting her job performance, it's creating a work environment that is detrimental to your and your co-workers health and sense of well-being.

Even if your director doesn't feel that he can bring it to HR, you can certainly do so yourself.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Tabby Uprising on May 03, 2013, 03:05:55 PM
Granted not all HR departments are the same, but as a former HR-er I can say this is absolutely an issue I could address.  It's awkward, but we're trained to be tactful  :D   or should be.  When hygiene issues permeate the work environment HR can step in and delicately handle it with the employee. 
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: wheeitsme on May 03, 2013, 06:04:27 PM
Do you have an EH&S (Environmental, Health, & Safety) office or officer at your company?  That might be the people to speak to.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Firecat on May 03, 2013, 09:18:41 PM
I'd be concerned that there may be mold or bacteria in her office that could be causing the smell, that could make others in the office ill. Further, do you have clients or others who come to your offices? It could be very bad if someone like that became ill due to exposure to something in this person's office space.

I think that I would consider going to HR and expressing these concerns. If you have a corporate attorney, you might also consider asking him/her if there could be a liability issue for the company - but ONLY if you can bring it up in the context of customers/clients/vendors.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Phoebe on May 03, 2013, 10:06:11 PM
Granted not all HR departments are the same, but as a former HR-er I can say this is absolutely an issue I could address.  It's awkward, but we're trained to be tactful  :D   or should be.  When hygiene issues permeate the work environment HR can step in and delicately handle it with the employee.

I'm curious, Tabby.  Would you mind sharing a tactful way to address this sort of thing?  I ask because years ago in my office (where the HR was half a state away) something very similar came up.  Rather than getting HR involved, the Regional Director told my coworker's immediate supervisor (not known for her tact) to handle it.  It did NOT go well at all.  Making it even worse, her supervisor was also her neighbor. 
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: sparksals on May 03, 2013, 10:43:50 PM
Do you have an Occupational Health and Safety Dept?   This type of thing would fit.   I dont believe this is an HR issue because the state of her office is affecting the entire workplace and health of employees.   

There could very well be mould in the office.  I cannot believe her boss allowed this to get so out of hand. 
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 04, 2013, 07:31:12 AM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: camlan on May 04, 2013, 09:39:31 AM
The thing is, office supplies and paper don't smell, however much you hoard them. Not in an office setting with decent climate control. She's got something in her office that's organic and rotting. Or there's a leak in her office and water is getting on some paper or something and making it rot.

Either way, I think there is cause for getting someone, HR or otherwise, involved here. It's not normal for offices to smell. There's something wrong. It needs to be fixed.

If her office was just messy and packed with "stuff," I'm not sure you would have grounds to do anything. But the smell indicates that there's a problem.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: *inviteseller on May 04, 2013, 10:10:56 AM
Hoarders do not notice the messes and smells (my former neighbor was a lovely lady, but she just had to be removed from her house and it was condemned ..it took a professional crew to get it inhabitable again) so having someone talk to her is not going to work.  The company is going to have to step in and take drastic measures to get it cleaned up.  I would talk to your supervisor, either by yourself, or as a group if others are complaining, and explain the health hazard that it is.  There is probably a copious amount of mold growing in there which is extremely bad for breathing.  If that doesn't work, keep going up the chain of command.  Again, telling her to do it herself will not work.  I bet her house is just the same, thus the fact that she smells too.   
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: TinyVulgarUnicorn on May 04, 2013, 02:46:27 PM
The thing is, office supplies and paper don't smell, however much you hoard them. Not in an office setting with decent climate control. She's got something in her office that's organic and rotting. Or there's a leak in her office and water is getting on some paper or something and making it rot.

Either way, I think there is cause for getting someone, HR or otherwise, involved here. It's not normal for offices to smell. There's something wrong. It needs to be fixed.

If her office was just messy and packed with "stuff," I'm not sure you would have grounds to do anything. But the smell indicates that there's a problem.

POD.  Honestly, I'd be worried about the stench and mess attracting vermin like cockroaches and rodents.  That might be enough to have HR talk to your coworker.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Amara on May 04, 2013, 05:22:07 PM
In addition to the mold and smell problems, any place packed with stuff, especially paper and files, is a serious fire hazard.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Zilla on May 04, 2013, 05:54:29 PM
I  would approach hr  as well.   What is she hoarding?
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Twik on May 04, 2013, 06:08:35 PM
If I were not above a small untruth, I might tell someone I wasn't sure, but I thought I saw a mouse run into Hoarder's office. That might result in a move by Maintenance to get things under control.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: VorFemme on May 04, 2013, 08:41:14 PM
Which might explain the smell, paper is not only a fire hazard, but shredded paper makes great nesting material.

Or didn't you ever see friends cutting newspaper into strips for their pet gerbil, hamster, or mouse?
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: sparksals on May 04, 2013, 10:50:01 PM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.


I think what you and coworkers did was rude.  Air spray over fart smells makes the smell worse and just covers it up.  Some of those scents are really powerful and give people headaches.  At least his farts are 'natural'.   Why was your smell covering better than his original smells? 
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: TinyVulgarUnicorn on May 05, 2013, 04:04:27 AM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.


I think what you and coworkers did was rude.  Air spray over fart smells makes the smell worse and just covers it up.  Some of those scents are really powerful and give people headaches.  At least his farts are 'natural'.   Why was your smell covering better than his original smells?

Farts might be "natural," but I'll take an overpowering fake scent over a fart smell any day. 
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: VorFemme on May 05, 2013, 09:50:21 AM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.


I think what you and coworkers did was rude.  Air spray over fart smells makes the smell worse and just covers it up.  Some of those scents are really powerful and give people headaches.  At least his farts are 'natural'.   Why was your smell covering better than his original smells?

Farts might be "natural," but I'll take an overpowering fake scent over a fart smell any day. 

I'll second this......seriously, VorGuy could be a weapon of mass destruction if you feed him certain foods in any quantity (I hesitated over whether to use the term "right foods" or "wrong foods" here).

But there are foods that have skunks holding their noses and fleeing the scene (butyl mercaptin, if I recall correctly, is a major component, for those not familiar with the North American continent's master of the weapon of stink - it can be smelled for miles under certain weather conditions and will render any animal so doused unable to use its nose and possibly it's eyes, depending on the marksmanship of the particular skunk*). 

*At least until the oily liquid can be rubbed off with earth or neutralized chemically by humans (vinegar, tomato juice, & several de-skunking commercial applications).
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 05, 2013, 12:39:41 PM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.


I think what you and coworkers did was rude.  Air spray over fart smells makes the smell worse and just covers it up.  Some of those scents are really powerful and give people headaches.  At least his farts are 'natural'.   Why was your smell covering better than his original smells?

I can understand your concern but since so many are effected by odors, our office only uses unscented odor neutralizes. But I'm sure that if one of the 6 of us were bothered by the smell of the air fresher they would have spoken up. None were quiet about the smell generated by him.
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: sparksals on May 05, 2013, 05:36:29 PM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.


I think what you and coworkers did was rude.  Air spray over fart smells makes the smell worse and just covers it up.  Some of those scents are really powerful and give people headaches.  At least his farts are 'natural'.   Why was your smell covering better than his original smells?

I can understand your concern but since so many are effected by odors, our office only uses unscented odor neutralizes. But I'm sure that if one of the 6 of us were bothered by the smell of the air fresher they would have spoken up. None were quiet about the smell generated by him.

If it is unscented, how does it cover up the fart odour?
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: TinyVulgarUnicorn on May 05, 2013, 06:49:51 PM
Ooohhhh, gross. I'm sorry, I would no longer be tactfull. I'd be saying on a daily/weekly basis "coworker there is a strong odor coming from your office. Would you get rid of it." And I'd be encouraging my other co-workers to do the same.

I had an office along a short hallway with 6 offices. The hallway doors were required to stay closed and company policy was to keep your door open unless in a private meeting. One co-worker changed his diet which created a lot of flactulence. We were all long term coworkers so probably little more open with each other. I had no problem going to his open door spraying air fresher and another co worker eventfully hung on the wall by his office door one of those airfreshners that release a scent periodically or you can tap a button. After a month we were still ready to kick him off the hall until his wife threatened to kick him out of the house if he didnt switch his diet.


I think what you and coworkers did was rude.  Air spray over fart smells makes the smell worse and just covers it up.  Some of those scents are really powerful and give people headaches.  At least his farts are 'natural'.   Why was your smell covering better than his original smells?

I can understand your concern but since so many are effected by odors, our office only uses unscented odor neutralizes. But I'm sure that if one of the 6 of us were bothered by the smell of the air fresher they would have spoken up. None were quiet about the smell generated by him.

If it is unscented, how does it cover up the fart odour?

Because it's a neutralizer - they don't cover the scent they neutralize it.  Here's an example:  http://pureearthnaturally.com/odor_neutralizer.htm
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: sparksals on May 05, 2013, 07:46:21 PM
Ohhh.. I thought you were using something like Airwick or Glade Sprays.  Nothing worse than apple cinnamon fart!
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: *inviteseller on May 05, 2013, 07:58:43 PM
Lol @ Sparksals..I had a co worker with gastric issues and he would spray apple cinnamon spray..those are 2 scents never meant to mix!  We finally told him he had to do something because it was not only offensive to us, but customers were complaining the store cats smelled...and it wasn't them!
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: BeagleMommy on May 06, 2013, 07:32:02 AM
Thanks, all.  I'm not sure yet how I'm going to address this.  To answer a few questions:

She hoards everything.  Paper, boxes, bags, toys, used pens, art supplies, you name it - she keeps it.  I've never actually seen food in her office, but I'm pretty sure it's there.

She never holds meetings with students in her office.  She always meets them off campus or in a conference room.  She claims her office is "too small".  ::)
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: IWish on May 06, 2013, 08:34:31 AM
Which might explain the smell, paper is not only a fire hazard, but shredded paper makes great nesting material.

Or didn't you ever see friends cutting newspaper into strips for their pet gerbil, hamster, or mouse?

POD to VorFemme. I would address this as a vermin issue.

At a previous job I took over the office of a man who was a moderate hoarder. There was no smell and no action ever taken because it was "just" stacks of paper and files. My manager cleaned out his office to make room for me. She found the desk drawers were filled with shredded paper and baby mice.  :o This was an urban office building with no other rodent problems that we knew of, yet the mice found their way in and made use of the abundant nesting material.

And I got a new desk!
Title: Re: I'm Not Sure There's a Way to Broach This
Post by: oogyda on May 07, 2013, 09:31:51 AM
Which might explain the smell, paper is not only a fire hazard, but shredded paper makes great nesting material.

Or didn't you ever see friends cutting newspaper into strips for their pet gerbil, hamster, or mouse?

Believe me, vermin will do their own shredding!

Ohhh.. I thought you were using something like Airwick or Glade Sprays.  Nothing worse than apple cinnamon fart!

Please tell me I can use that!!!  Unfortunately, the opportunity will arise  :-[