5 reasons why you're a bad co-worker

Working in a studio can be great. You've got like-minded designers to bounce ideas off. You can eat lunch together, or grab a drink after work. You're all pulling towards a common goal, and multiple heads are always better than one, right?

Well, that's the idea. But perhaps your own experience falls short of creative utopia. Do your infuriating co-workers chip away at your productivity, your happiness and your sanity? If they don't, either you've lucked out – or you're the problem.

Don't be that person. Read on for five reasons why you might be a bad co-worker, and more importantly, how to sort it out before it's too late...

And if you think it's your creative knowledge that's not up to scratch, rather than your personality, then check out our guides to logo design (opens in new tab), kinetic typography (opens in new tab) and creating mood boards (opens in new tab).

01. You're all mouth and no ears

bad coworker: man shouting into phone

Don't be this guy (Image credit: Moose Photos from Pexels)

Do you find it frustrating when someone talks over you, and steamrollers your contribution to a meeting? Of course you do. It's great to be passionate about getting your ideas across, but don't do it at the expense of others.

One huge benefit of having a team of people working on a project is the range of perspectives available. Fresh ideas can come from anyone. Good ideas can become great because of that little spark from somewhere unexpected.

Whether you're running the team or are just a particularly vocal member of it, close your mouth from time to time and give the thoughtful, introverted team members some airtime. Your over-enthusiasm might be crushing the energy out of the project.

02. Your desk has its own ecosystem

Paperless offices sound great on, well, paper. But some people have a way to go yet. If, when someone asks to borrow a stapler, you need to dig under a layer of jumbled paperwork, slowly-mulching banana skins and other paraphernalia to find it, stop and ask yourself if this is the way it should be. 

Perhaps you agree with Einstein that an empty desk is a sign of an empty mind. In your eyes, there's balance amidst the chaos, and your nose has become accustomed to the baseline aroma. But consider whether your gradually expanding desk sprawl is driving your co-workers mad.

Being busy isn't an excuse: you're probably wasting more time sifting through the debris every day than it would take to sort it out and give everyone a break.

03. You take the banter too far

Sharing a laugh with co-workers is one of the great things about working in a studio, and if the work-play balance is struck just right then the office culture – and ultimately the quality of the work – will all benefit.

Everyone knows someone who can't resist taking the banter level up to 11, however, and it's not always welcome. In fact, it can have extremely negative ramifications if it's only amusing for you, and not the recipients. People may start to feel uncomfortable, undermined or even threatened.

In the age of #MeToo, you would hope that awareness of the potentially destructive impact of ill-judged 'banter' in the workplace would be at an all-time high. But don't fall into the trap of thinking you're woke when your 'ironic' jokes are actually a fast-track to a disciplinary. 

04. You eat your lunch from a trough

bad coworker: pigs in trough

You might be happy about your lunch, but are your colleagues? (Image credit: Getty)

Sharing lunch with co-workers can be a great way to catch up on news and enjoy the social side of working in a studio environment. But if you notice them wincing or retching while you tuck into your latest crunchy, sticky or whiffy treat with gusto, check whether you left your table manners at home.

Some people aren't bothered by a lunchtime cacophony of open-mouthed chewing, slurping and finger-sucking. Others may be silently screaming beside you – especially if you're eating at your desk and showering crumbs and morsels everywhere, or pawing the latest design concepts with your greasy mitts.

Just be aware of the difference between enjoying your lunch and burying your head in a trough. Your co-workers will thank you.

05. You think the world revolves around you

So you're a talented designer. That's great, it's probably why the studio hired you. But it's a safe bet they didn't hire you for your arrogance. Put your talent into your work, don't broadcast it at full volume to your equally talented, more humble and long-suffering colleagues.

There's no need to be a lone wolf hunting for glory. Embrace the benefits of a collaborative working process, and recognise how your co-workers' strengths complement yours. Share the load, share the credit. Let your work speak for itself, and take praise with humility and constructive feedback on the chin. 

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Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards (opens in new tab) in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.