Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “This is more a vent than a question, but why is it that everywhere I work, people are always complaining about their part of the office being too warm or too cold? Our poor manager spends more time responding to every little complaint about the AC than he does running the business. Doesn’t anyone feel the responsibility to dress appropriately for how it might feel that day, and maybe bring a sweater, or do they expect the place to feel perfect no matter where they sit or what the weather’s like outside?” – L.C., Regional Sales Support


Question: “The people I assist have started to work at home at least one and sometimes two days a week, and often come in at unusual hours because they’ve been putting time in outside the office. They always rave about how much they can get done without distractions—but I can’t tell you how many times I have to go without answers or important discussions because they’re being so “productive” at home. Sometimes I even fall behind on deadlines waiting for them to finally show up. Is anyone but me getting kind of fed up with this trend?” – Jodie, HR Assistant


Question: “I like my job overall, but with it come six or seven things I have to do each and every week, on the same schedule, with no variation, just grunt work. This has been going on for two years, and it’s getting to the point where I almost can’t face opening the same old spreadsheet even one more time. With no real chance to make these little tasks more interesting, how do I mentally push through and not totally go crazy from their tedium?” – Terry, Benefits Administrator


Question: “Our home page features pictures of our entire staff; we each had to submit one. Obviously this is not the kind of thing that gets mentioned at a job interview as a requirement of the position, but it would have been nice to know that my photo and contact info would be broadcast online. I’m not sure I object enough to mention it, but I feel as if I should have control of where my image, title, and general location is posted, since as a first-year admin I’m not exactly a key player the public needs to know. Am I being too sensitive?” – Bonnie, Clinical Project Assistant


Question: “My office produces so much written communication now that is seen by the public that I think it’s time we officially adopted some sort of style guide so that we’re not putting wildly different spellings and meanings out there. Does anyone have any experience with either picking a known one or creating their own from scratch? What’s the easiest route to go?” – Radi, Administrative Assistant III


Question: “I feel like taking a bit of a risk at work and suggesting we actually create an office culture, not just work ourselves silly every day with no opportunities for blowing off steam, getting to know one another, or seeing each other as more than cubicle drones. Does anyone know how I’d begin? What can I do to ease people into a more chummy environment?” – Jennifer, Admin Support Agent


Question: “I opened the office fridge one day last month and found a note taped to my empty grocery bag. Someone was apologizing for eating my sandwich when she realized she’d left hers at home and had become shaky with hunger. Fortunately the situation resolved itself (sort of), but now I really have to know what people say is the most jaw-droppingly irritating thing one of their co-workers has ever done!”  —  Reese, Closed Captioning Transcriber


Question: “Our CEO wants input about a fairly radical idea for reorganizing our office space. Because she thinks everyone’s gotten too insulated, which leads to secrecy, territoriality, gossip, and a lack of understanding of what other people do in their jobs, she wants to abandon all the offices and have everyone in one giant room with very low cubicle walls. Does anyone work in a setup like this? What do you think the effects would really be?” — Dale, Contract Service Specialist


Question: “I don’t make a whole lot of money as an admin, and I find myself shelling out a little cash here and there just to keep my job running smoothly—mostly buying office supplies, software and apps I feel I need to do things better, but also pitching in for birthday gifts, supplementing potlucks, and even paying to participate in all our football pools and guess-the-baby’s-birthdate contests to show team spirit. Do I have reason to be a little resentful that my job isn’t exactly free to do?” — Tammy, Documentation Coordinator


Question: “Frankly, our admin team makes a lot of mistakes. We deal with a lot of paperwork and we create typos, overlook incorrect addresses, forget to format things correctly, mislabel files, etc. It’s all well and good to tell people to ‘be more careful,’ but there’s got to be a better way to put people into a mindset that cuts down on simple errors. Who’s got a solution?”  — Pru, Executive Finance Assistant