Q: Dear Workplace Wonda,
When ordering supplies for the office/department, why is it that the order isn’t for everyone? When supplies are ordered, you assume it’s for everyone’s use, correct? Wrong!
How do I handle a fellow co-worker who hoards an office item like it was paid for with his/her own pocket money?
A: Dear Glue-less,
I hope your name isn’t secret code for what item your co-worker is hoarding. When you sign off as Glue-less, I can’t help but imagine your co-worker barricaded in his/her office drowning in a sea of Elmer’s glue.
Hoarding is a serious mental health condition and there is even a TV series titled, "Hoarding: Buried Alive" that addresses extreme hoarding. So, unless your co-worker is literally buried beneath heaps of office supplies, I’ll assume your use of the word "hoard" refers to your co-worker’s refusal to bestow this item upon you.
Since you don’t name this item, I’ll also assume that it is a commonly-used and/or a very sought-after item. The part I’m having a difficult time piecing together (get it?) is why your co-worker isn’t sharing.
It reminds me of a Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck episode where Bugs and Daffy emerge from a burrow and find themselves in a Sultan’s cave filled with treasures. So greedy is Daffy, he stomps Bugs back into the burrow as he famously screams, "It's mine, you understand? Mine! All mine! Get back in there! Down, down, down! Go, go, go! Mine, mine, mine! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!"
Is your co-worker greedy? I’m not sure. I can’t imagine your co-worker is rolling in post-it notes or throwing Xerox paper in the air yelling, "It’s mine, mine, all mine! I’m rich, I’m rich. I’m filthy rich!" But hey, who knows.
In order to answer your question on how to handle Daffy, I mean your co-worker; I would need to eliminate some important variables. For example, what is your office/department’s procedure for requesting and ordering supplies? Does your supervisor order the supplies or is there a designated staff person? When supplies are ordered for your office/department are they stored in a centralized place, in the designated staff’s office, or individually handed out?
In most instances, there is one individual in the office/department who is in charge of ordering supplies for the entire office. In my department, our designated staff member asks us if we are in need of specific supplies. She places individual orders as well as stocks commonly used supplies such as post its, pens, Xerox paper, etc. in a centralized area that all staff can access as needed.
But, before you become un-glued, my advice to you would be to clarify with your supervisor what the procedure is for ordering and/or accessing office supplies. Once you clarify, you will be able to a) address the sticky situation directly, b) let your supervisor know that your co-worker is trying to stick it to you by not sharing supplies, and/or c) contact the producers of "Hoarding: Buried Alive: and suggest they have a special "office addition" of their cringe-worthy series.
Signed, Workplace Wonda