Whether you’ve brought in leftovers from last night’s amazing dinner or you popped out especially to get yourself a treat, nothing is more motivating than knowing there’s a tasty lunch waiting for you at midday.
Thoughts of that meal have probably popped up at numerous points throughout the morning, helping you to stay awake through that unnecessarily long meeting and giving you the strength to finish that project.
As the minutes slowly creep towards lunchtime, you can almost taste that first delicious mouthful. Perhaps, in the anticipation, you take your lunch break earlier than normal. You rush excitedly to the kitchen, open the fridge… and then your heart drops. Your lunch isn’t there. You frantically move other lunches around in the hope that maybe it’s been pushed to the back. But deep down, you know. You’re the latest victim of the office food thief.
And suddenly, you can understand the pain that Ross Geller felt when he couldn’t find his Thanksgiving sandwich.
Sadly, we’ve all been there. Having your lunch stolen is an occurrence that unites workers from all over the globe.
It is not surprising, then, that a Twitter thread about a stolen lunch went viral this week. While the story is yet to be verified, it serves as a deeper tale for workplace etiquette.
Zak Toscani describes how a co-worker had his lunch — shrimp fried rice — stolen and the HR department allowed him to check the CCTV. To make matters worse, the perpetrator didn’t even appear to eat the lunch, she merely took it out of the fridge and threw it in the bin.
Even after HR sent an email to the whole company reminding staff not to steal other people’s lunch, the culprit denied her involvement and implied that the victim was a snitch for going to HR in the first place. We can only imagine what the tension in that office must feel like.
However, unlike Zak’s co-worker and Ross, many of us will never be able to confront our own food thieves.
According to Business Matters, a third of British workers have admitted to taking food from a colleague without their permission and more than three quarters had done so more than once.
When asked what had caused them to steal someone else’s food, nearly half (47%) cited being hungry but having run out of their own food.
So, how can offices combat the issue of food thieves? Is there even a solution, when labelling food doesn’t seem to be enough to deter the most determined food thieves? It’s a difficult topic for companies to address, especially if you don’t have CCTV in the kitchen.
Perhaps the only solution is to provide staff with food, so they won’t feel compelled to take from other people.