5 Office Personalities: How Many Do You Recognise?

Believe it or not, we spend around 92,000 hours at work over our lifetime (depressing I know). During that time we'll work with many different people. While you're likely to form some great friendships along the way, it helps if you understand some of the many personalities you'll encounter.

In this article we'll cover 5 of the most relatable office characters across the UK; see how many of these you recognise and learn how to 'get along' with all of them... 

The internet is crowded with these kinds of lists now, so let's put a refreshing new spin on it. Each type of personality will be analysed from two different angles: how to spot them and how to interact with them. They will then be summarised by our unique 'tolerance' meter. Purely for a bit of fun, this gauge will rate how tolerable that particular personality is on a day-to-day basis.

There will be satire and there will be stereotype, so this is not for the easily offended... 

1. The Politician

What could be more contextually relevant on the eve of the EU referendum? The office politician will jump at any opportunity to ignite or partake in any kind of debate. They are more than likely a mastermind when it comes to plucking accurate statistical figures out of thin air, and avidly stay abreast of the country's current affairs. 

How to spot one:

Likely to be seen carrying a broadsheet newspaper and walnut-handled umbrella (even on sunny days). Their analytical nature will deem 3% chance of precipitation an absolute risk, and they take great pleasure in bad-mouthing the Met Office and their incompetence. 

There's a good chance they're members of their local council gatherings and are partial to tweed, facial hair and flat caps. Enjoys using words such as 'swine', 'deceitful' and 'the devil reincarnated'.

How to interact with one:

If you're out of your depth when it comes to political knowledge, just nod and agree with everything they say. This will avoid any unnecessary conflict and prevent them from reciting the entire script from last night's Question Time. 

Take note of the paper they read to understand if they fall towards the  left or right wing. Purchase said paper and leave it on your desk as a white flag. Much like the cross repels vampires, this will act as a deterrent and avoid political disputes. Be aware though, this technique can also have negative repercussions, as it could act as an unspoken signal to converse on your (apparently) mutual views. In the event of this happening, just run. Run and don't look back.

On a day-to-day basis these personalities are fine to work with, provided they are not provoked. Once fully incensed, their score on the tolerance meter can drop to a 1 or 2, depending on time of year and topical developments (such as the impending Brexit debate). In such times, avoid all eye contact and small talk. Office Politicians have a cunning knack of turning your innocent, passing comment on the price of milk into a wider-scale debate on global farming issues.

2. The Hangover Victim

In direct contrast to the aforementioned, the hangover victim can often be heard before being seen - their groans and yawns byproducts of a heavy night. Although monday mornings tend to be the worst, don't be surprised to see them lagging throughout the week too. 

They tend to use the word 'cheeky' in an effort to reduce the seriousness of drinking heavily on a Wednesday night and, with a weak willpower, the Hangover Victim finds it almost impossible to refuse a 'cheeky' few pints, should their friends ask. 

Their foolish escapades are always desensitised by repeating the word 'banter', and provide fun narratives for the entire office to enjoy the next morning.  

How to spot one:

Connoisseurs of kebab shops, the Hangover Victim can be identified by a distinct smell of sambuca and garlic mayonnaise whenever they walk past. If they appear a tad overdressed for work, look a little closer. It's not that they are making extra effort, but in fact wearing last night's gladrags. 

Closer inspection will reveal staining, club stamps on their hands and a general unkemptness. Much to the dismay of the Health Guru (featured later in the article), the Hangover Victim does not hesitate to bring a greasy double sausage and egg bagel into work.

How to interact with one:

Up until 11am, interaction will be limited to inaudible grunts. Once their 4th coffee of the day is downed, a sense of normality (and colour) can be seen on their face. Sparking conversation with this colleague is pretty straightforward. Anything on or around the subject of alcohol, festivals or local nightlife will return a meaty response. With a sensational ability to navigate around all major cities and their respective nightclubs, the Hangover Victim makes a great addition to your staff night out.

Other topics of discussion can revolve around Ibiza, Magaluf, Malia and DJs. Avoid being phased when they use terms such as 'sick beat', 'house music' and 'Avicii 2k16' - these are commonly used expressions in such circle of people.

Apart from their consistent lack of productivity and lateness, the Hangover Victim does little to test your patience. During working hours they tend to keep themselves to themselves. The least uptight when it comes to their diet and appearance, the hangover victim can actually give everybody else a morale boost - as other colleagues are relieved that it's not them fighting off vomit and chugging caffeine. 

3. The Joker

Descendants of the royal jesters, these personalities will take every opportunity to pull an office-based gag. Whether it's using a full pad of sticky notes to decorate your desk or switch around the buttons on your keyboard, these people cannot be trusted. 

Ensure you are logged out of any personal social media when leaving your computer unattended (probably better to just lock the machine full stop), as they are opportunists and will not hesitate to post an embarrassing status on your behalf.

How to spot one:

Far more difficult to spot than the traditional clown, these pesky personalities don't wear giant shoes and face paint. Instead, you have to use your intuition and go by reputations in most cases. Be wary of people who start stories with 'do you remember when I' - as this usually develops into a recital of mischievous past events. 

The Joker comes in three very distinctive types: amateur, intermediate and advanced. The amateur joker will merely relay funny stories, tell jokes and generally utilise harmless humour. The intermediates will often play innocent tricks on you, meaning no malicious intent. The advanced are likely to put you within an inch of losing your life for the sake of generating a giggle.

How to interact with one:

Real life interaction with a Joker can be challenging at times. Their penchant for a comical tale can often cause them to veer off on a tangent at unnecessary times. Prolonged conversation with them can result in aching around the cheek area, as you laugh (whether genuinely or fake) at most things they say. 

They're quick to make quips, so be cautious in your speech, as they will turn (what was intended as) an innocent phrase into a sordid pun.

Very much dependent on their levels discussed above, a Joker can give the office a lease of life that no other personality will. The days when they are absent will seem flat, quiet and less eventful. Keep in mind though, consistent pranksters who don't know when to stop can cause the tolerance meter to fall out of the bottom and explode.

4. The Ice Cube

I don't care what anyone says, every office has one of these. The Ice Cube is the person that never quite finds their optimal body temperature. Many years of thoroughly important research have discovered that these people most definitely have a broken thermostat and require plenty of workplace allowances to thaw them out.

How to spot one:

The Ice Cube can usually be found in the corner, furthest away from any drafts (doors, windows, air con units). They are prone to sneaking industrial strength fan heaters under their desks and wearing 14 layers of clothing. The mere mention of reducing the office temperature in any way will provoke an instant and, quite frankly, violent reaction. 

They tend to thrive on hot drinks throughout the day, even in summer, and are known to warm their hands on a freshly boiled kettle. On the subject of hands, avoid touching them at all costs. Legend has it that one handshake from this colleague can inflict instant frostbite and cause hell to freeze over.

How to interact with one:

When their teeth aren't chattering, these personalities are relatively normal. Be wary of passing any comment about how warm you are, as this can cause them to baulk in disgust. Speaking from personal experience, avoid calling them a reptilian at all costs - this can cause offence in a lot of different ways. Ice queen and cold-blooded creepo are also not recommended.

Very tolerable personalities so long as you don't sit beside them. Sitting next to one can reduce this score to a 3, as the dispersal of heat from their fan heater can cause you significant discomfort, and the persistent rustling of their 13-tog coat can become tedious and distracting. Be prepared for loud tutting noises and dirty looks if you even dare to reach for your USB fan.

5. The Health Guru

Often overheard bragging about their weekend bike ride or new PB record, these gym rats are often found in the canteen preparing their own food. Lovers of plastic tupperware, the Health Guru is a master of preparation - opting to bring in homemade goodness instead of ready meal feasts. They like you to know about it too, as they'll often remind you of the carbs in the doughnut you're eating, or why your protein intake is severely lacking. 

How to spot one:

The first, most startling trait of a Health Guru is that they are totally unfazed by the sight, smell and taste of salad. They'll meander back and forth through the office in a specific schedule, ensuring their meal times are on point. As you dunk your final digestive into a second cup of tea, they'll be preparing an avocado. As your gorging on a family bag of Doritos, they'll be sipping on their smoothie. Just in the corner, sipping smugly. 

With an 84% chance of owning a Nutribullet, these people can be spotted by an identity tag they all seem to wear - apparently known as a 'fitness monitor'. It's from this alien device that they will relay a minute-by-minute account of their steps, heart rate and activity levels. Ensure you make impressed facial expressions and comment on their physical prowess.

A brief examination of their desk will reveal emergency supplies of protein powder, foul-smelling shakers and a plethora of other supplements. The Health Guru probably wears compression tops at inappropriate times and keeps a diary of PT classes.

How to interact with one:

A bit of research on your typical health aficionado will reveal that the best way to communicate with them is via hashtags. Awash with progress pictures, their Instagram feed will be home to #gains #gym #gymlife #progress #summerbod #crossfit #doyouevenliftbro?

If you're a lazy mess of a human like myself, you could struggle to find common ground to talk on - as the Health Guru spends most of their waking hours inside a gym. It pays to learn specific terms and buzzwords if you're planning on striking up conversation. Throw words like 'reps' and 'the pump' into random parts of a sentence and you'll achieve relative comprehension.

Seasonally dependant, the Health Guru's tolerance rating can fluctuate. Key times of year to look out for are the winter months, which are known as 'bulking' months, and the lead up to summer - which is when their tolerance factor hits zero. 

In the approach to summer, don't be surprised to face excessive discussions regarding their beachbody goals and body fat percentages. Again, just pretend you're impressed and DO NOT allow yourself to feel guilty about the pack of double-stuffed Oreos you've just consumed.

Conclusion and honourable mentions

With the 5 above we've tried to cover some slightly different types of personalities than the ones more commonly covered. These honourable mentions include The Brown Nose, The Storyteller, The Quiet One and The Tech Geek (all pretty self-explanatory).

I suppose if there is any serious anecdote to take away from this read is that we aren't telling you to change who you are as a person, but merely adapt and accept the people you work with. You're bound to have different views and interests, so it's just about acknowledging this and getting on with it. By doing so, your time spent at work will be conflict-free and much more pleasant as a result.

Now here's the fun part: tag your friends on this article and see if they can guess which one they are!

By Jon Clarke