Monday, 3 September 2012

Desk Agony

Dear Auntie Lizzy,

I work part-time so only in the office two or three days a week. When I’m not around my colleagues use my desk as a dumping ground. Most weeks I arrive to random papers, dirty tea cups, the hugest stapler I’ve ever seen and this week my chair was missing. 

I’m usually a rational, calm lady but this is making my blood boil and I’m getting a reputation as a desk grump. Should I confront my team or keep my OCD feelings to myself? Please help.

Yours

Desk Grump

Dear Grumpy

Working in a big office is all about give and take, and it sounds like you colleagues are excelling on both fronts.

Let me deal with the "take" first, as this is the easiest.  A girl I work with bought her own set of stationary about a year ago.  She bought a hot pink stapler, a hot pink calculator, a hot pink tape dispenser, a hot pink pen set (dispensing black ink I am happy to say otherwise I would have to sack her) and a desk tidy in, yup, hot pink. The crowning glory is her hot pink post-its, which to add insult to eye-watering injury are also heart-shaped.

I was having a little chat with her the other day and noted her love of pink. "I don't love pink" she said. Huh? And then she revealed her masterplan. She was fed up with her kit getting nicked so chose the most eye-catching colour she could and bought herself a bunch of stationary. Nothing has been pilfered since she started this approach.

Now to tackle the dumping.

Are man-traps frowned upon in your office? Because Jim from accounts only needs to get one clamped round his ankle and I guarentee your desk will become and exclusion zone for everyone.

No?

You could go for the notes.

Leave one on your desk.

"I do my best to stick to a clear desk policy, so I would appreciate your help, please remember this is a desk not a dump!!!"

(All good, passive-aggressive, notes have at least three exclamation marks.)

However, by going down this route you might will get a reputation for being a bit of a knob.

Here is what you should really do.

Next time you come in to work wait until the rest of the office staff are all at their desks around you and throw a little strop. Not getting angry as such but picking up each foreign object in turn and asking who left it there and then walking calmly up to their desks and popping the offending item back, with a sweet smile and maybe once you put it down just give it a little tap for effect.

And if no one claims the item then, in full view of everyone, drop it in the bin. (If it is a cup, stapler of epic proportions, or something that you know is important you can retrieve it discreetly a bit later.)

It won't stop it immediately but people will start to think twice before dumping things as it might not even have occurred to them that it bothers you and it will get better.

Wishing you a pristine desk and unboiled blood,

WFI



3 comments:

  1. I work part-time so only in the office two or three days a week. When I’m not around my colleagues use my desk as a dumping ground. Most weeks I arrive to random papers, dirty tea cups, the hugest stapler I’ve ever seen and this week my chair was missing.

    I would totally retaliate by dumping things deposited on the desk which were not mine into the trash.

    Except for the huge stapler. That would go into my desk drawer. Huge staplers are one of those things where when you need one, that is the *only* thing that will do, and too often, when you need one, one isn't on hand. So I'd keep that snaffled away!

    But stealing your chair? That's beyond the pale. I find it bad enough when people adjust mine when they borrow it, since it's one of those complex ergonomic ones and it always takes me a couple of days to get it readjusted.

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  2. Ah, yes, this is fantastic officey local colour. Love it. I reckon your advice should so the trick. But if things get very bad, Grumpy could go the "This is mine, I licked it" route, as so often seen in the fridge in shared houses?

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  3. Ehmm. Grumpy would WRITE "This is mine, I licked it!!!" on a note. As opposed to just announcing it in a loud voice, which might be a step too far.

    Glad that's clear now.

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