A few weeks ago I spoke to a young lady who complained to me about co-workers helping themselves to items that do not belong to them. This employee, we’ll call her Matika, works in an office that is an open space. She sits in the front. There are approximately 8 – 10 employees. Most of the staff is in sales so they come and go frequently.
Apparently her geographic location in the office invites borrowing or, in some cases, taking things from her desk. She often comes in and has no have pens, pencils, paperclips etc. Not only did they help themselves to things on the desk but items in her desk as well. It got so bad that she sent out an email to the office reminding everyone that the items on and in her desk were not community property. In addition, she printed labels with her name and adhered them to all the items on her desk. She is contemplating chaining some items to the desk.
I know how this feels. One time I came back from a vacation to find that my beloved scissors, ‘Snippy” were missing. I sent out an email pleading for the culprit to return Snippy unharmed and no questions would be asked. I received a ransom note informing me I was to release the stapler or Snippy would sleep with the fish, rusted. At least someone had a sense of humor. Snippy did turn up eventually. I apparently had locked him in a drawer and forgot I put him there.
Another issue that Matika brought up was people walking up and reading her computer screen. Some people have the audacity not only to blatantly read your screen but to also ask you questions about it.
How about if someone opens your mail? Would that be OK? Same thing. Just because a co-worker does not have a private office does not mean they are not entitled to privacy. The company may be permitted to read anything on an employees’ computer but individuals do not have that right. Besides, it is annoying.
I also spoke to a lovely woman named Mary who works in a similar environment. She told me, “Look, it goes with the territory. If you are at that front desk people are going to use your office supplies.” She told me that, of course, it is annoying but she knows it isn’t going change. She said, “If you do borrow something please put it back when you are done. Come on, we all learned that in kindergarten.” Mary also told me she used to work for an organization where she had to put away and lock up every item on her desk. If she didn’t, they were gone forever.
Work can be stressful enough, please, return the pen.