A superior asked me to give him a copy of something, and he wasn't in his office. So it seemed natural to just slip it under the door - since it was Friday, he needed to take it for the weekend, and I didn't want to risk him leaving without it. There was no secretary and no mailbox or pigeon-hole I could use. But then I got thinking, he's older - probably in his 60s, and bending down to pick something up might be inconvenient.

So I want to hear the opinion of a superior receiving somewhat high-priority messages under the door. Is this disrespectful? Does it gives a bad impression of the employee?

  • 2
    I wouldn't say it's disrespectful but he's probably going to step on it. If he's technologically capable, why not just send him an e-mail to print out or e-mail/call him to see what he wants you to do with it?
    – zfrisch
    Jun 19 '15 at 19:42
  • 2
    I would have gone with scotch tape and taping to the door, personally, but certainly not the end of the world. Jun 19 '15 at 20:17
  • 1
    I take it you don't have mailboxes? Jun 20 '15 at 1:36
  • Could put a post-it on his door saying you slipped the document underneath the door. In case someone would remove/take it, keep an additional copy on your desk and notify the recipient of this. Jun 22 '15 at 12:59
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    If his office is unlocked I usually just go in and leave it on the manager's keyboard.
    – Andy
    Jun 22 '15 at 15:23

Is this disrespectful? Does it gives a bad impression of the employee?

No, and no.

There are a few things to consider:

  1. It could get stepped on. Especially these days, when paper forms are almost unheard of, your boss won't be looking for documents under the door, so might step on them in their haste. If you document is irreplaceable, maybe it can wait. If your boss has a giant glass door, maybe not so much of an issue.
  2. Your boss isn't the only one with the key. Janitors will very often enter office during the night/weekend to clean. If your document is sensitive or valuable, it might be better to not leave it unsecured. At best, the janitors will need to move the document, which might put it somewhere where it could get lost/overlooked.

So while it's not some definite no-no, there are things to consider, and where possible you should aim to return later so you can hand the document to your boss directly.


When you're dealing with a tight deadline, an important deliverable and uncertainty, it's good to try every means possible and not assume that method will work. If the urgency isn't so great, or the deliverable isn't so important, you can hold back a little.

Things I'd do in this situation:

  • If printed copy is how you always deliver it, then do put it in the most obvious place. Under the door is fine. It wouldn't hurt to put it in a manila envelope or a file folder in case of it getting stepped on.
  • Shoot an email copy to him as well - that way he's got multiple copies.. it costs nothing and provides a great backup.
  • Give a call to his cell if you've got it saying what you did. That way if he's left for the day unexpectedly, he knows where to look.
  • Leave a sticky note on the door saying "you were out, I slid the copy under your door" and include your name.

The next time you see him - confirm that he got it, apologize in case all of this was annoying and ask what to do the next time this happens.

Thing to avoid: Don't ever ask if he's capable of bending down and picking it up. Ask "what's the best way to handle this next time" - that way, if he DOES have problems picking stuff up, he can come up with a clever alternative without admitting the problem.

This ought to work for anything that is slightly sensitive but not massively private.

I'll say I dislike some of the other alternatives on this question because:

  • Jamming a document in the door jam often leads to the document falling off, or getting lost or damaged when people walk by.
  • Don't fret about the janitor - chances are good that if he can get in, there's enough valuable stuff in there that the janitor would be a risk regardless of the document

As a last note - if you have strong confidential information handling procedures - follow them. Do all of the above EXCEPT shoving the document under the door. Lock it up by whatever means works, and then tell your boss where it has been locked up. If you are the only person who has access to the secure storage, give your boss the best contact info for yourself and prepare to come back to the office to help him if you have to leave.

  • +1 for the sticky note idea and the document under the door. The problem with leaving the document outside is if it is confidential then it's accessible by anyone. The OP doesn't state if it's sensitive information but if so, you probably don't want to leave it lying around.
    – Jane S
    Jun 23 '15 at 22:13

As an alternative, if it's not confidential you may be able to slip it in between the door and the door jamb at about eye level. It will probably stay within easy reach and he will notice it before he opens the door.

Probably the best solution is to use email.


You do what you have to do - Nothing rude about it. What would be rude is not giving him the material he needs so that he can go over it during the weekend. If you are looking for a rude way to comply with his wishes, ask me and I'll be glad to come up with something fiendish :)

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