Descent Into Office Anarchy

Source: Stencil

It reminded me of a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie. The unfortunate survivors roam the earth. They scavenge around for the last remnants of food. Okay, maybe this isn’t as bad. But it felt eerie.

Here’s the story.

Our office is closing down and moving to a new location. None of the equipment is moving. Everything will be new.

That means employees can take whatever leftover equipment, furniture and supplies remain.

Most folks are rational, sensible people. It seems the lure of free stuff transforms rational thinking people into looter mindset people.

I decided not to take anything. We’ve been trying to purge our house of junk for over a year. No more clutter for me.

And So It Begins

It started with laser printers. Those are high-quality items. Nothing unusual there. There was some competition, but it was good-natured.

As moving day approached desperation gained the upper hand.

I walked in my office yesterday and found my whiteboard missing. Someone had taken it home after I left the previous day.

Plants disappeared. Reasonable, I thought about taking one myself.

Pictures started to disappear, though not all of them.

The poor guy with the Dogs Playing Poker picture couldn’t give his away. That went into a donation box.

Descending Into Lunacy

Yesterday, one day before the move, the madness escalated.

I saw one guy with three scotch tape dispensers. Does anyone still use scotch tape?

Another person asked for my stapler. At least he asked. The whiteboard thief staked out my office and waited until I left.

Perhaps the oddest loot of all — leftover rug tiles. Maybe these things are worth something on Ebay?

Events like this offer interesting insight to the observer. This is just an office move. What happens in times of real panic and scarcity?

Constraints

Here is the takeaway lesson.

Without constraints and a mechanism to enforce them, people ran wild, ignored social norms and descended into general assholery.

I often find rules and constraints annoying. Who doesn’t?

Then again, locking your door to keep your scotch tape and whiteboard safe doesn’t suit me either. Nor did I enjoy hearing the footsteps of people checking the occupancy of my office — hoping to find an opening for further plunder.

Let’s find a nice balance.

Before You Go…

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