I work in a consultants room with a dozen other people. It is a room of roughly 500-600 sq ft. It is located on client site but most of us who work there (with the exception of two) are from the same consulting shop, which also manages the project. None of the client's employees sit in the room.

Because the client does not provide coffee, several coworkers (myself excluded!) pool money to buy coffee and they have a coffee machine. The immediate surroundings of the coffee machine are beyond disgusting. The whole area is unkempt and resembles a biological experiment with a focus on bacteria. I do not participate in using that area except for the filtered water and I do participate in maintaining that. The room does get janitorial attention but the janitor lady who comes in does not do a very good job and she seems like a downright slob herself. However, I am not sure the coffee area is her responsibility.

My manager, who sits in the room, projects little to no authority over my coworkers so I don't want to ask that person do drive the coworkers to clean up. The account rep (liason between our company and the client, and our company's employee) sits in the office next door, which is much cleaner. Should I ask that person to intervene about the cleanliness of our office?

I joined not even three months ago. I am aware that I have higher sanitary standards than most people but this is not tolerable by any low standard. I do not want to put myself in the position of directly nagging to my office mates. I would like to escalate the issue to an authority who would handle it professionally and also make sure it keeps clean and tidy in the future. Or should I contact building maintenance?

Seems like a trivial situation but it makes me angry every time I walk by. It's not a subconscious aspect of hating my job, which I don't, quite on the contrary. But I want the communal areas kept clean.

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    If you can figure out how to do this, there's probably a Nobel Prize in it for you. – Joel Etherton Oct 24 '16 at 3:53
  • @JoelEtherton : I will be even more blunt : recruit only people who are pathologic cleaners. – gazzz0x2z Oct 24 '16 at 7:44
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    "this is not tolerable by any low standard." Demonstrably false. It clearly meets the standards of the other employees, the cleaning lady, and management. – user45590 Oct 24 '16 at 8:21
  • Possible duplicate of How to keep an officeroom clean with 10+ people? – user8036 Oct 24 '16 at 10:31

Get up, walk over, and clean it while muttering about 'pigs in a pigstye'. Then if you feel so inclined, put up a sign. 'Please keep this area clean' or something.

I'm actually being serious. I've been in similar situations and just set an example. It usually doesn't take long before everyone does their bit. If not, I don't care, if I'm using that area I'll help clean it. I'll save the complaints to building maintenance and several managers for something more serious that I can't fix in a few minutes.

I'd probably clean it in less time than it took you to type the question and chances are others would assist so that no one thinks they're the aforementioned 'pigs'.

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    Yep. I work in a FTSE 100 company where professional people seem unable to find the dishwasher or clean up spills (or even find the middle of the toilet bowl, but that's another matter). If things are a mess when I arrive for my coffee, I'll spend a few moments in cleaning things up myself. Notes about keeping the area clean and where the dishwasher is have been up for years and ignored for years. People will assume the cleaners will sort things out but a lot happens between shifts. – user44108 Oct 24 '16 at 7:46
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    +1 for "help clean it". It may not be fair, but if the mess is intolerable to you, this is probably the only ultimate solution. A coffee area is really not that hard to clean. And as a bonus, you get a reputation of "the employee who always helps out" instead of "the employee who is always complaining". – user45590 Oct 24 '16 at 8:23
  • No, I don't want to do this because I don't use that area. But I want it clean because it is in my immediate vicinity. – amphibient Oct 24 '16 at 13:58
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    @amphibient, if it bothers you and no one else, then you are the person who needs to clean it. – HLGEM Oct 24 '16 at 14:25
  • that's like saying if it other people's excrement in the hallway bothered me, I should go after them and clean it rather then expect them to use the bathroom – amphibient Oct 24 '16 at 14:27

Make an appointment to talk to both the account rep and the manager. Represent to them both that the state of cleanliness of the room would be a reflection on the company as far as the client is concerned. And while the client has turned over the room to the consultants, it's still the company's room and the consultants have an individual as well as a collective responsibility to keep the room clean.

In terms of the managing the company's relationship with the client, keeping the room clean on behalf of the client is a small matter - a small matter which remains small as long as the situation is managed rather than ignored. It is absolutely undesirable that the situation be given any opportunity to escalate.

Follow up the face to face conference with a written memo summarizing the situation and highlighting the action item. Bcc that memo to the manager's supervisor.

If you feel strongly about the state of cleanliness of the room, be prepared to escalate to the manager's senior management should the manager fail to take adequate action. When I am the consultant and I am at the client's site, I make damn sure not to leave obnoxious footprints of my presence.

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    Scheduling appointments? BCCing in supervisors? Escalating to upper management? This is kind of the nuclear option for handling a quite trivial problem. It's likely to harm your reputation with all involved. At least try to talk to your fellow employees directly first about the issue, if you don't want to be the least popular person in the office. – user45590 Oct 24 '16 at 8:27
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    @dan1111 I gave up on my fear of being unpopular long ago. The only thing I care about is "is it the right thing to do?" and "given that it is the right thing to do, is important to us that it gets done?" My answer may seem like an overreaction, but it is designed to pre-empt a possible reaction from the client. Why conferencing with the manager and the account rep with manager's supervisor being bcc'ed? I want everybody on the same page, pulling in the same direction and actually taking action and responsibility - The sooner this gets done, the sooner it's over and dealt with. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 24 '16 at 13:37
  • ^^ description of my personality in the last comment, @VietnhiPhuvan – amphibient Oct 24 '16 at 14:00

How cool is your manager? It would be 1000x more efficient to let him set the standard for cleanliness, to let him clean the area while grumbling about lazy ass subordinates. If you can talk to him and ask him nicely if he could clean it while grumbling and being visibly disappointed it would mean the world. Try saying you will do it the next 2 months if only he could do it once, sometime when the others are around, just once. Especially since he is not a very "controlling" manager these things will get noticed.

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