The Etiquette of Using Office Supplies

Just like having a roommate requires certain rules of conduct about sharing a bathroom, kitchen, food etc., the cabinet that holds the office supplies also has its own set of rules. Breaking these rules can have very unpleasant consequences, and you may find when you come to work one morning that all the items on your desk have been super glued onto it, making it impossible to get any work done. It is best to know what the rules are, in case you find yourself in an awkward situation with a coworker regarding who took the last box of paperclips.

Rule #1: Never Take More Than You Need. There is sometimes nothing more frustrating than needing liquid paper, finding it all gone in the supply cabinet, then reporting it to a supervisor, only to find that the person in the office next door has a drawer full of it when you go to ask them if you can borrow some. Having more supplies than you need shortens the supply in the cabinet for other employees. It also makes the person ordering the supplies think that it is being used rapidly, which causes them to order more, spending more of the company’s money. If the company is spending a lot of money on office supplies, and you are hoarding liquid paper in a drawer, don’t expect to get a raise.

Rule #2: If Something Is Gone, Say Something: I know you think your office manager has supernatural powers because they can somehow always catch you watching YouTube clips when you are supposed to be working. The fact is, that your office manager or the person in charge of ordering supplies is probably not a mind reader. If you go to the supply closet, and find that it is lacking something that you need, in order to get some more, you have to report it. If you don’t say anything about it, then you can’t complain when the next order comes in lacking the supplies you require.

Rule #3: Throw Away The Empty Boxes or Containers: One of the most frustrating things that can happen in the office, is for example, having your highlighter run out of ink, going to the supply closet to get another one, picking up the box that contains them, only to find you are holding an empty box. This is an office no-no. If you take the last of something in the supply closet, make sure you throw the box or container that was holding it, away. Not throwing away empty containers and boxes in the supply closet gives people false hope. To prevent your office accountant threatening to staple you to your chair, throw away the box when you take the last highlighter.

Now that you know how to behave and what to in regards to the closet the office supplies are kept in, you should take note. You probably have enough to deal with at work without the person in the cubicle next to you giving you the stink eye for the eighteen boxes of binder clips you have tucked away. Only take what you need, if something is gone, tell your supervisor, and always throw away the empty boxes or containers. If the office accountant does decided to staple you to your chair, it won’t be because you were foolish about the supply closet, it will be because he is crazy.