Not in the Elevator, Please

August 14, 2012 ( – Sharing an elevator can feel like a violation of personal space, but even more so when other riders act strangely.

While most people follow the standard elevator etiquette of facing forward and generally keeping to themselves, quite a few workers surveyed by CareerBuilder reported less-than-ordinary experiences while in transit.   

Workers shared the following real-life examples of weird behaviors they observed in work elevators: 

  • “Pantsing” a co-worker; 
  • Changing a baby’s diaper; 
  • Flossing teeth; 
  • Clipping fingernails; 
  • Fist fighting; 
  • Showing someone a rash and asking for a diagnosis; 
  • Moving the entire contents of a co-worker’s office into the elevator, including the desk; 
  • A woman with her arms full of papers using her head to keep the doors from closing on her; and 
  • Dancing throughout the ride. 

When asked to identify the most annoying elevator habits they see more commonly at the office, workers most often cited people talking on cell phones (35%), standing in close proximity for no apparent reason (32%) and deliberately letting the elevator's doors close when someone is approaching (33%). However, 16% of workers admitted to purposefully closing the elevator door when they saw someone approaching.   

Other annoying habits cited include:  

  • Squeezing into an already crowded elevator – 32%; 
  • Not stepping off the elevator to let other people out – 27%; 
  • Holding the elevator doors open for an extended period of time while waiting for someone else to get on – 26%; 
  • Cutting in line to get on the elevator when other people have been waiting longer – 23%; 
  • Taking the elevator to go up one or two floors instead of using the stairs – 20%; 
  • Pushing the wrong button, so the elevator stops at more floors – 17%; and 
  • Facing away from the elevator door, instead of toward the door like everyone else – 7%. 

For some workers, elevator rides are a source of anxiety. Sixteen percent of workers said they are afraid of getting stuck in an elevator due to a malfunction.  

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder between May 14 and June 4, 2012. Participants included 3,892 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over.