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I have been accommodating up until now, allowing others who do not have a desk in my office sit at my desk after I've left for the day. I'm finding out that they are sitting at my desk to eat, or to chat with others. Mind you, we have a conference room in the same office area with a large table and as many chairs that can fit at this large table. I'm looking for ideas to keep people from sitting at my desk. I attempted to put my chair behind a locked door to have them pull another chair over and was actually annoyed that I had done that. It's not so much that I mind them at my desk, because as I said I have allowed it up until now. It's the crumbs I find or the ring from their drink on my desk the next day. Not happy about that. Any suggestions? Thank you.

marked as duplicate by gnat, Chris E, NotMe, scaaahu, DarkCygnus Oct 16 '17 at 2:31

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  • I don't think this is a duplicate. The other question is about a one-time surprise event; this one is about an ongoing situation that was, in a way, invited. – Monica Cellio Oct 11 '17 at 3:03
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It's not so much that I mind them at my desk, because as I said I have allowed it up until now. It's the crumbs I find or the ring from their drink on my desk the next day. Not happy about that. Any suggestions?

Leave a note on your desk asking those that use it after hours to clean it when they are done. Perhaps even leave the cleaning materials there as well.

Some folks will indeed clean up. Others will avoid your desk so they don't feel obligated to clean up and use another. Either way you win.

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    ... and other people will set the sign to one side and ignore it, same as they ignore the "please keep the kitchen area tidy" signs... – Snow Oct 9 '17 at 12:50
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There's not really much you can do about this, apart from causing conflict if you do raise it.

The simplest thing to do is to get a tub of moist wipes and wipe your desk every morning. I don't see this taking more than 20 seconds or so.

At least then, your desk will be more consistently cleaner than everyone else's in the office.

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I'm looking for ideas to keep people from sitting at my desk

This probably isn't what you want to hear but it's not really your desk. So trying to get them to stop sitting there when you aren't around is ultimately futile and will likely cause conflict and bad feelings.

I attempted to put my chair behind a locked door to have them pull another chair over and was actually annoyed that I had done that.

I'm not surprised that they were annoyed by this, it's an incredibly childish and passive-aggressive response. If you know who the person (or persons) is that use your desk after you leave then you could try talking to them and ask them politely to leave the desk clean after they have used it. Something like:

Hi [Desk-borrowing-coworker], I've got no problem with you using my desk when I'm not around but would you mind taking care to leave it clean afterwards?

If you don't really have the sort of relationship where you can talk to them or if you feel that they wouldn't take it on board then I'd go with Snark Shark's suggestion. Keeping a tub of wet wipes handy and giving it a quick wipe down in a morning might feel annoying when you didn't create the mess in the first place but realistically it's few seconds out of your day at the most and will give you the confidence of knowing that your desk really is clean.

If you don't know who it is or know that it's a variety of people then a polite note on the desk (and perhaps a tub of wet wipes as well) just asking anyone who uses the desk to leave it as they find it is a good way to go. I would say that if it is just one or two people and you do know who they are then a note is a bad idea as, like the locking-the-chair-away tactic it will come across as passive-aggressive and is likely to backfire on you.

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If you know the people who does this, you should approach them directly telling that you don´t mind let them using your desk but you are not happy with how dirty it gets after they use it. And ask politely to clean after themselves or go somewhere else. If you don't know who does this, leave a gently reminder on your desk telling people what i've said before. If this doesn't work you can probably raise this to your manager