In the workplace, one of the biggest employee pet peeves is “obnoxious eating.” Basically, the stinky lunches, and bad eating habits of co-workers.

A recent survey by Career Builder found that over half of all full-time employees eat at their desks at least once a week. And most complaints are about aromas that linger, like French fries, fish, popcorn and burritos.

Pamela Dalton is a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and she says smells can make people cranky. Because bad or unidentified smells put us on alert, distract us from what we’re doing, and can cause headaches and moodiness.

After smell, the biggest co-worker complaint is food noise.  We’re talking about the crunchers and munchers, the finger-lickers and lip-smackers, and anybody who eats with their mouth open. 

What’s the fix? Eat your lunch – stinky or not – outside the office. There’ll be fewer complaints and you’ll be more productive. Tony Schwartz is an employee consultant.  And he says that squeezing work into every possible moment drains your energy. And workers who eat away from their desks see big jumps in focus and productivity.