Shared Office Space Creates Tension

Dear Suri, I work in a “shared office environment,” which only means that everyone shares an office with at least two other people. It is mostly a space issue, but my supervisor also says it was done to boost teamwork. I guess people were relying on e-mail and chat and not actually talking to each other for weeks on end.

I actually don’t mind this setup, and the people I share with are usually pretty good about not listening to loud music, keeping food and perfume smells to a minimum, etc. But now this one lady has started to mess the whole thing up.

She just got a new personal computer, and now insists that everyone lock the door when they leave the office. It is just stupid. I’ve already been locked out three times, and it is just a waste of time and productivity.

Business People Working In Office
We’re all in this together

Labor Intensive

I’m overweight, so I usually empty my pockets when I get to work. The way dress pants are made, they don’t leave a lot of ‘extra room,’ if you know what I mean. It just gets too tight and uncomfortable when I sit down with stuff in my pockets. I’ve started to put my wallet and keys in a drawer and leave them in there until the end of the day. So when this lady pulls this stuff, it means I get locked out. I am tired of it!

Twice Shy

I complained to a co-worker, and he said that she (my office mate) had some stuff stolen a few years back when she had her own office. They took her computer, purse and some other stuff. Some guy posed as a janitor and just swiped stuff from everyone. I guess he made off with a lot, and then was never seen again. But that was years ago, and also when her office was on the first floor. Now we’re on the second floor. It would take balls to come up here and pull that stuff!

I think this lady is being disrespectful. Constantly locking the door is annoying, especially since she has a drawer that locks! Just keep your stuff in there. Don’t force the rest of us to play this game every day! — Locked Out in Loch Haven, Pennsylvania
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Dear Locked Out, Rebuilding trust can be a long and difficult process. More than the mere loss of material possessions, theft is a violation of privacy and security. The emotional toll can last for years — even a lifetime.

Remaining sympathetic to your co-worker’s concerns, could you not draft a personal reminder to bring your keys when you leave the office? Good luck. ~Suri

Suri Says™
by Suri Syrtauwnya
Advice Editor
Residential Life Magazine

Un-Friending Big Brother

A friend recently posted “unsolicited advice” (her words, not mine) on her Facebook account, warning young people seeking employment to know and monitor the information about them on social networking sites.  I wondered why they don’t just make their profiles private?

Employers searching for online information about job candidates is nothing new, it’s just become more prevalent (and easier!) in this age of social media. People still, however, have more control than they think when it comes to what is seen by whom.

Though nearly hidden, Facebook allows users to remain almost completely anonymous. This would, of course, defeat the purpose of social networking, but may be a tool to use temporarily, particularly when job seeking.

A friend set up his account in such a way that only family members (and, I suppose, close friends) are able to see what he’s up to. This may seem like an extreme measure to take, but it serves his needs quite well. He wanted to be part of the ‘scene,’ but also wanted to protect his privacy.

Social media has, though, become an integral part of our lives. For those who don’t want to completely erase their ‘footprint,’ I suggest creating a ‘professional’ online presence.

I have multiple accounts on various social networking sites, each with its own privacy settings. Because I use LinkedIn for freelance opportunities and professional networking, I’ve set up the account to allow virtually anyone to contact me, and see my information.

On the other hand, I have two accounts each for Facebook and Twitter: one for personal posts, and another that takes on more of a professional tone.

I use my initials (you could also use a nickname) for my personal sites, and my full, legal name for the ‘work accounts.’ I don’t cross-link the accounts (no ‘friending’ or ‘liking’).

The result is that — for the most part — I am able to maintain two separate online identities, while controlling what information is seen by what people. Because I’m not really outright hiding anything from anyone, I’m sure the potential exists for an employer to realize my ‘ruse,’ but online subterfuge was never really part of the plan, in the first place.

Another aspect of my ‘unsolicited advice’ for young people would be to create a website dedicated to their professional endeavors. ‘JaneSmith.com’ or ‘BestChefSanFrancisco.net’ — something along those lines.

The site will become a ‘living resume’ and online portfolio that you can include in your job seeking correspondence. Provided you make a commitment to frequently update content, it will also have the added benefit of displaying first (or of the first) in search results.

Maintaining an online presence doesn’t have to be a compromise of security or privacy. You can protect your online identity. If employers want to try and find something online that might disqualify you from a position, show them you can ‘play the game’ better than them.

by Enid Ahylhienatta | Technology Consultant | Residential Life Magazine