Financial Conduct Authority  

Don’t dump on colleagues

Simon Read

Simon Read

How do you behave in your office?

Assuming you share it, there are certain standards of behaviour I hope you maintain. After all, respect for colleagues is important.

But it is not something they seem to have at the Financial Conduct Authority.

The City watchdog moved into new offices in east London about 18 months ago.

The £60m building is in Stratford, on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

But chief operating officer Georgina Philippou felt compelled to write recently to the 4,000 workers housed in the building about “distasteful and shameful” behaviour.

In the letter posted on the regulator’s staff intranet, she reported a stream of bad behaviour including the relatively tame “leaving cutlery and crockery in the kitchen areas” and “overflowing bins”. But some of the behaviour was much worse than that.

The letter went on to list crimes such as “stealing plants and charging cables from desks, catering and security teams being subject to verbal abuse, colleagues defecating on the floor in toilet cubicles, urinating on the floor in the men’s toilets and leaving alcohol bottles in sanitary bins.”

Is that the kind of office you would like to work in? Me neither.

Ms Philippou is of a like mind. She wrote: “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated here.”

The FCA told the Evening Standard, which broke the story, that: “judging from the feedback, our staff agree [that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable].”

But clearly not all staff agree. Some felt it necessary to behave badly in the first place.

And evidence quickly emerged that the regulator was not alone in being hit by filthy actions by workers.

The global accountancy firm KPMG was forced to warn staff about their conduct last year.

In an email to workers at its Reading office, bosses warned: “We have had some incidents recently where the first floor accessible toilet sink is being used as a toilet.

“This is not the behaviour we expect from KPMG staff.”

I should hope not.

I spoke to KPMG about the incident and a spokesperson told me: “Where there is behaviour that falls short of the standards we expect we are quick to call it out.”

I do not know about you, but I have seen plenty of anti-social behaviour in offices over the years.

Eating smelly food at desks is one particular bugbear, and I hated working late at one national newspaper where the night staff would regularly order in curries.

So I was interested to read of a related court case last week, in which an Essex commuter was fined £750 and ordered to pay £750 costs after flying into a rage over another passenger’s 6am breakfast of boiled eggs “which gave off a strong smell”.