Make us your home page
Career Q&A | By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Reclaim assigned desk from office interlopers

Q: Everyone in our eight-person office uses my desk, even though they all have desks of their own. They say that I have the fastest computer. While sitting there, they also go through my desk drawers, which seems disrespectful. I realize that I don't personally own this equipment, but as an administrative assistant, I have to be at my desk to work. I don't think my boss knows about this, because I've never told him. What should I do?

A: Your pushy colleagues are apparently hijacking your desk solely for their own convenience, so you have every right to reclaim your territory.

Start by telling your boss how these intrusions are creating a business problem. For example, you might explain that you're having trouble completing your work or that you are concerned about the security of confidential information. Next, ask your manager to help you resolve the issue. The quickest solution would be for him to simply direct everyone to use their own equipment and leave yours alone.

You might also request permission to password-protect your computer, so that no one else can log on. If co-workers continue to badger you for computer access, you must politely, but assertively, tell them to go away. For example: "I know that everyone likes using my computer, but I have work to do. Our manager said we should all use our own equipment, so I need to stick to that policy."

Once these intrusive people stop sitting at your desk, presumably they will also stop rummaging through the drawers. But if that problem persists, just tell them to quit, then lock up whenever you leave.

Working at bosses' home has downside

Q: I have worked in a home-based business for the past 10 years. The owners of this tiny company are a married couple, and our offices are on the lowest floor of their house. On the positive side, my schedule is flexible, and I don't need to spend money on a professional wardrobe. My bosses are good-hearted people who provide a decent salary and a 401(k) plan. The downside is being confined in the basement and having no contact with the public except by phone.

I am also privy to lots of details about the owners' personal life. My workday typically includes dealing with pets and children. I walk by the boss' underwear on the laundry room floor and often have to sit through family arguments.

I have seen many articles about running a home business, but none about the challenges of being employed by one. However, I don't really have a question. I just wanted to let you know what it's like to work in someone's house.

A: Your workplace is certainly more unusual than most, so thanks for sharing an interesting perspective. Since you've stuck it out for 10 years, I assume that the flexibility and relaxed atmosphere outweigh the daily hassles of pets, kids and dirty laundry.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics."

Reclaim assigned desk from office interlopers 04/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 16, 2011 10:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. First WannaCry, now cyberattack Petya spreads from Russia to Britain


    Computer systems from Russia to Britain were victims of an international cyberattack Tuesday in a hack that bore similarities to a recent one that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide.

    A computer screen cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, at an office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Tuesday.  A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe.
[Oleg Reshetnyak via AP]
  2. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  3. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  4. Trigaux: Task now is for Water Street Tampa to build an identity


    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  5. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]