What not to eat in a co-working space

With so little time, founders often snack at their desk, but some foods should be left off the menu when it comes to lunch in co-working spaces.

Being mindful of your food choices is a good idea in any office space, especially if you work in close quarters with others. Whether it be smelly, crunchy or messy, what you eat will impact those around you.

Your lunchbox choices could also lead to fewer positive relationships in your co-working space, if you regularly chow down tuna sandwiches or an aromatic curry.

Etiquette is also key with a few common rules to follow when using common eating and storage areas.

Eating in the office

Unfortunately, your taste buds aren’t the only party you need to consult when choosing what to eat for lunch. Picture: Getty

8 foods that should be avoided while at the office

1. Tuna

Tinned tuna can make a tasty light snack, but the smell can drive your co-workers mad.

It also has the potential for further annoyance if you drain the can in the sink and fail to clean it properly.

Try and avoid regularly packing canned tuna in your lunchbox. And when you do, don’t ever eat it directly from the can – at least, not in front of people.

2. Seafood

All ocean catches – canned or fresh – should be off the menu when snacking at your desk in a co-working space, especially if re-heating is necessary.

The fish dish or scallop pie you had last night might be tasty, but the odour is sure to be noticed far and wide.

Anchovies, sardines and mussels can be particularly pungent, so it’s best to wait until you’re home to get your seafood fix.


Seafood may be delicious, but it has no place in the office. Picture: Caroline Attwood/Unsplash

3. Bananas

This carb-loaded fruit is a breakfast staple, but it’s one of the most divisive snack items.

The smell of an overripe banana can be extremely overpowering, especially if you leave one on your desk for several days. So maybe have one with your cereal before you head to the office instead.

That way, you’ll avoid awkward eye contact while eating, too.

4. Toast

Who doesn’t love a piece of warm toast with a cup of tea when settling in front of the computer?

Well, your co-workers for a start. That is, they won’t like you crunching loudly on it, nor leaving crumbs all over the desk.

What’s more, if you burn it, the rest of the office will have to deal with the smell for several hours.


Is toast the best comfort food ever? Maybe, but the crunch and crumbs will lose you friends in the office. Picture: Manki Kim/Unsplash

5. Curry

Lamb, goat and vegetarian curries are delicious, however, all the amazing spices that make curry taste so good tend to linger in the air, which isn’t a nice experience for those that get to also eat it.

6. Fast food

Let’s face it, we all have a hankering for some greasy grub occasionally, but you should stop and think before bringing KFC, McDonald’s, pizza or any other fast food into your work area.

The occasional burger shouldn’t make too much of a difference, but enjoying them too much within the office walls might leave an unwelcome aroma for your coworkers.


Fast food habits don’t give off the best impression. Picture: Bobby Rodriguezz/Unsplash

7. Hard boiled eggs

They smell bad. Enough said.

8. Anything crunchy

Chips, pretzels and popcorn are fun snacks, but listening to someone eat them is annoying and distracting.

A common pet hate is hearing other people chew, so consider a less crunchy snack when planning your weekly meals.


Crunching sounds are often as off-putting as strong smells. Picture: Georgia Vagim/Unsplash

5 etiquette tips when working in an office

1. Be clean

Remember this is a professional space, not your home, so it is essential you take care of it. While most spaces will have a cleaner, you are still required to put in effort.

Keep your desk clean and mop up any spills or crumbs. Remember also not to leave any old containers in the fridge.

Take care when putting liquid items in the bin. Ensure they are sealed properly, or empty them in the sink first.


Keeping your desk clean will boost your productivity as well as your friendships. Picture: Owen Vachell/Unsplash

2. Keep diet chat to a minimum

We live in an age when talking about our health and what we eat has become popular online. However, in person, listening to someone list their daily food intake can be at best boring – at worst it can be triggering for those who have experienced disordered eating.

No matter if you are a fitness startup or a tech guru, do not bore your co-workers with conversations about your diet. It’s one of many co-working taboos you should try to avoid.

Walking at lunch

Sometimes a short break from your screen is all you need to recharge your batteries. Picture: Javier Garcia/Unsplash

3. Use lunch to network

The long lunch has been a successful business strategy for decades. However, these days people tend to view it as a relic of the past.

If you want to discuss work with someone be upfront about it and don’t try to cut into their personal time.

For bigger clients, however, business lunches can still be a great choice. They’re also great for building networks or showing appreciation to long-term contacts. And they can be tax deductible, too, so long as you don’t overdo it.

4. Get outside

While we think eating at our desk will save time, experts recommend you try and avoid it.

Lunching at your workstation can lead to decreased work output and an increase in stress.

Try popping outside for 15 minutes to eat. This means you can bring what you like for lunch while stretching your legs and stimulating creativity.