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Cube mates cranky over cell phone calls

Late to work? Sloppy? Who cares, as long as your cell phone is turned off. Mobile phone rings are voted the top workplace annoyance, according to a new survey.

Late to work? Haven't bathed for a few days? Don't sweat it, as mobile phone rings have been voted the top workplace annoyance, according to a recent survey.

see related story: Tips for ill-mannered cell phone users With workers crammed into cardboard-segregated workstations and electronic communications ubiquitous, it's hard to find respite from ring tones in the office. A recent survey of 6,000 people by recruitment company TMP Worldwide found that irritating mobile phone rings are the top workplace nuisance, followed by malfunctioning equipment such as photocopiers, fax machines and printers.

Rings and annoying jingles cause major distractions, especially in offices with cubes that afford little privacy. Furthermore, certain brands of mobile phones have a ring callback to alert the owner if a message has been received.

"These are the main areas where people get irritated," according to Fergus Kelly, marketing manager at TMP Worldwide.

Job jockeying, or riding on the work of others, ranked the third most annoying workplace issue according to the survey, followed by bad breath and/or body odor, and empty toilet paper rolls in restrooms.

Considering people often spend more time with work colleagues during the day than with partners, families or friends, it's important to strike a social balance in the workplace, Kelly said.

"The last thing we want is for the workstation next to us to have a colleague in it with one of those irritating habits...and irritated or peeved employees in the work environment making it even more stressful," he added.

Rachel Lebihan reported from Australia.