- Reuters-Robert Galbraith/Business Insider
Microsoft’s global offices apparently have a (dairy) culture problem: Namely, that employees are wasting a lot of milk.
On Reddit’s Microsoft “subreddit” community, a job candidate for a position with the tech giant’s United Kingdom offices asked for advice for his forthcoming interview.
One self-described employee with Microsoft’s game studios in the United States, “HelenAngel,” chimed in that her best advice for new hires is to “[not] be one of those people that takes a milk carton and uses just a little bit of it for your coffee/tea and then puts back the opened container on the counter or the drink fridge.”
Apparently, Microsoft employees have been burned by spoiled milk before. So unless an employee opens the milk carton themselves and sees that it’s totally fresh, they’ll assume it was left on the counter to go bad and just open a new one.
Which means that it’s actually better to either chug a lot of milk or just pour it down the drain, because no Microsoft employee will drink any opened milk containers.
“The Orphaned Milk Carton culture is somehow deeply ingrained in our worldwide culture,” HelenAngel writes.
Apparently, added user “landwomble,” it’s such a known issue that Microsoft’s internal Yammer social network has a group dedicated to documenting these lonely milk cartons, entitled “Milk cartons of the Pacific Northwest,” in tribute to Microsoft’s Washington headquarters.
“I reuse milk cartons left in the fridge, what’s the probl… Be right back, gotta hurl,” quipped user “MySecretAlwaysAngry.”
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Employees weigh in
According to ex-Microsoft employees who have written in to Business Insider, the milk problems are real, but perhaps overstated.
First off, says one ex-employee, the cartons in question are small, single-serving cartons. Some people just use a little from a tiny carton for their coffee and then put it back in the fridge.
“[It’s] more of a ‘yuck’ factor because you always wonder if someone put that thing in their mouth,” says that ex-employee.
Notably, this person says that the problem is most wide-spread in Microsoft’s domestic offices, and workers in Asian regional offices like Tokyo or Singapore generally leave the milk alone entirely.
One current Microsoft employee, who asked to stay anonymous because he is “not authorized to speak about internal Milk [sic] policies,” thinks the issue is overblown. He estimates that because the cartons are so small, Microsoft wastes 23 gallons of milk a day across 50,000 employees in Redmond.
“How many gallons of expired milk does Safeway get rid of at their Seattle area stores on a daily basis? I guarantee it’s a heck of a lot more than 23 gallons,” says this employee.
Meanwhile, yet another ex-employee says that they were often frustrated with how wasteful the milk culture was:
“I’d say, they waste at least 3-4 cartons of milk at each kitchenette every day. Each carton is about 8 ounces, and every floor usually as 2-4 kitchenettes. And the main campus has probably at least 50 buildings each with 4-6 floors. So yes, that’s a lot of milk wasted,” says this ex-employee.
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They go so far as to say that this milk issue was representative of how things were done at Microsoft in general. At their new company, there’s simply a pitcher of milk in the fridge and everybody pours from it as needed.
“It’s a problem that can be so easily solved yet it prevailed in Microsoft for so long and there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” says this ex-employee. “That says a lot about in general how things are done at Microsoft. And that led to my major frustration and decided to leave.”
We’ve reached out to Microsoft to get more clarity and will update if we hear back.
And if you know more about Microsoft’s milk culture, feel free to reach out via e-mail.