Q: One of my coworkers always brings lunch from home or leaves to pick something up from a nearby restaurant. Most of us will go to the cafeteria in our office building to buy or eat our lunch, but he brings a packed meal every day and heats it up in the kitchen in our office. The meals he brings fill the entire office with the smell of the food, which is often quite pungent and distracting/disruptive to those trying to work. What etiquette is at play here?
A: If you bring food into the workplace, keep spicy or smelly foods like greasy subs, cooked broccoli and garlic bread in the lunchroom, kitchen, lounge, an empty conference room or outdoors. The problem here is that the heating of the food emits certain smells, so maybe a tactful suggestion to use a microwave in the cafeteria (which many office buildings provide) would be helpful. Try inviting him to join you for lunch in the cafeteria, or if the problem persists and you feel uncomfortable intervening, you can always consult your supervisor or manager who can address the situation privately so not to embarrass him.