Eight things guaranteed to cause office stress


The majority of us work in an office of some description, and, unfortunately, office stress all to often seems to come with the job, as these examples show.

1) Office Clutter

Stacked boxes, stacked paperwork, stacks of files… Stacks of anything except money is bad news, really, as they are a looming, authoritarian presence that can damage both your mood and productivity. A clean, organised workplace with plenty of storage space is a happier, more productive workplace. This means that Feng Shui is indeed important, as is knowing where important documents are located.

Work getting on top of you?

2) Not Using Your Breaks

There’s this little thing called ‘eating’, and it’s important. Not taking your lunch break could make you more sluggish, less able to concentrate and generally more irritable. Working through one’s lunch hour is perhaps one of the worst pieces of false-thinking regarding being productive at work.

There’s more, however. Tea breaks and taking time away from the computer screen can refresh your thinking and allow you to socialise with your peers. Office burnout is something everyone should worry about, so don’t let it happen to you.

3) Your Co-workers

“Hell is other people,” right? Yes, in a word. A stressed-out environment is hectic and frenzied, and also contagious. The boss’s demands, expectations of perfectionism and office politics are all major contributors to office burnout and, whilst it may not be best to think that your co-workers are out to get you, getting counselling isn’t such a bad idea.

However, in the unlikely probability of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style takeover, your co-workers may well be out to get you. In such a case, avoid contact with any counsellors and quit your job. Staying vigilant will help prevent such an occurrence from happening.

4) Your Boss/Manager

Almost cliché and really just an extension of the above – some managers are slave-drivers, will expect you to do things they’ll never do themselves, push your buttons (knowingly or not) and/or be general David-Brent-alikes. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this except get a new job, or hope that your manager is so bad that they’ll get fired at some point. Working from home may help you avoid your manager/co-workers, but this could be a false sense of security and a way of avoiding problems that may need to be dealt with.

Another problem is having to report to several managers, all of whom want you to prioritise the work they’ve set you. Handling such workloads can cause confusion and brings with it another problem: over-management.

5) A Poorly Maintained Working Environment

In addition to office clutter, excessive heat or cold, badly-lit work areas, malfunctioning equipment, uncomfortable seating and enclosed spaces, repetitive noises and loud noises can, amongst other things, contribute heavily to office stress-levels. Whilst constant, repetitive noises, bad lighting and malfunctioning equipment will more likely affect your mental health at first, the constant mental stress can turn into physical illness. Constant colds, significant weight-loss or -gain and exhaustion are common amongst those who are constantly stressed.

6) The Workplace Bully

Unfortunately for some, bullying doesn’t end on the school playground. The workplace bully can cause absenteeism, instigate the rise of a blame culture and generally cause misery amongst those afflicted by the bully’s presence. The only way of stopping such people is by reporting them to those higher up on the chain, preferably with the help of co-workers.

Sometimes, however, even this doesn’t work. Going to court and/or finding a less poisonous workplace may be the best solutions, but no solution is as satisfying as fighting dirty if need be. Bullies get promoted, often ahead of more talented and capable people. This is quite often achieved through intimidation, so the key is to use their tactics against them. Allow no space for psychopaths to move, and they’ll get frustrated and quit.

7) High Workloads/Low Workloads

Everybody knows that high workloads and impossible deadlines are likely to lead one to being stressed-out, but low workloads? Low workloads, other than being generally unproductive, can lead one to feel unappreciated, of little value and that their skills aren’t being used effectively. Boredom and frustration does not equal an efficient use of time.

8) Lack of Communication Between Co-Workers and Employers

No interpersonal support? Poor working relationships? No idea about where the business is going? Lack of communication can make you fear for your job. Getting along with your co-workers is as important as the work itself, and clear advice and guidance from the manager is assuring and rids one of the question “will I have a job tomorrow morning?”; perhaps one of the most stress- and anxiety-inducing questions of all.