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we're working with 10-15 people in the same room and unfortunately there's no cleaning service. This leads to some untidy places/behaviours, like old cartons lying around, a messy fridge, empty cans standing on each desk etc.

Of course not everyone is fine with that situation, so that it even escalates in some situations. We already tried to have some common office rules. With a connected punishment this lead to even more discussions and escalations. Without a punishment the rules have been just ignored.

Are there some best practices how we can find a good option in the middle and how to motivate the not so clean people to take care, while the other extreme is fine when it's just clean-ish and still not perfect.

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    Is there an Office Manager? Are you a manager? If you're just one of these 10-15 people with no standing then there's virtually nothing you can do. – Lilienthal Aug 25 '16 at 6:38
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Personally I would speak to your boss about paying somebody to do the cleaning. You say there is no cleaning service but surely this is by the company choice not because there is no one within a hundred miles who could come in once a week to hoover.

I once worked in a company where a manager decided we should all spend time doing cleaning to save money(instead of development work). This was stopped by the owner when it was pointed out that he was paying developer wages to office cleaners.

Having said this people should be responsible enough to keep their own desk moderately tidy, put plates in a dish washer etc. If this is actually impacting on hygiene or your ability to work it needs to be dealt with by a manager or HR.

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    This, exactly. If no-one wants to clean voluntarily, then pretty much the only option is to organize some kind of cleaning service. You can do this by making the developers clean, but a dedicated cleaning service is probably a better idea for numerous reasons. – sleske Aug 25 '16 at 7:23
  • The types of things called out in the OP seem more that people are simply not cleaning up after themselves in fairly basic terms - leaving cartons or cans around shouldn't be the responsibility of an outside cleaning company. It doesn't sound like it's the type of thing requiring a professional cleaning service. – enderland Aug 25 '16 at 12:53
  • I think my last paragraph covers general neatness. This is a management issue and if management have already ruled it isn't a problem there is very little the OP can do to motivate colleagues to be more tidy. – Dustybin80 Aug 25 '16 at 14:20
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This needs to be enforced from above. You cannot get 10 people to do what you want unless you're in a position of authority. So it's pretty much the manager/bosses problem to fix.

I have seen offices with no cleaners kept tidy, but that is only because everyone pitches in voluntarily. One way to help mitigate against mess is to have a sign. But the best way is to have the boss walk through every so often and tell some people off if their area is untidy.

Something simple like 'You guys are a bunch of pigs, keep the place clean for crying out loud. I don't want to come through again and see it in this state.' That's all it should take assuming you're employing professional adults, not prima donna's.

It depends on the bosses relationship. I'd probably shame them into doing it by picking up a rubbish bin and walking around collecting the rubbish as an example of how easy it is. 'Takes five minutes guys, keep it tidy, next time I'll invoice you.'

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    You expect professional adults to tolerate "You guys are a bunch of pigs" or shaming attempts? Professional cuts both ways, and if my manager tried that nonsense, it would be a one time event. – Laconic Droid Aug 25 '16 at 10:15
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    @LaconicDroid done it many times, it's a style that can be used, funnily enough, they just cleaned up, because professional adults don't leave their areas in a mess or unclean. Do you work in a dirty unhygienic mess? Would look great on your CV, 'sacked for being a messy, unhygeniec health hazard employee'. (Y) – Kilisi Aug 25 '16 at 10:17
  • It's like someone with bad BO, you can beat around the bush, or just straight out give them a heads up. 'Mate, you stink, people are complaining, do something about it because I don't want to have to deal with it'. Most people appreciate the heads up and do something about it. – Kilisi Aug 25 '16 at 10:28

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