When newly-sworn-in New York congressman Bob Turner moved into his new digs in the Rayburn building, his wife, Peggy, requested that the office bathroom be scrubbed clean. There was also talk of replacing the carpeting and trashing at least one notorious chair, according to an article in the New York Post.
No, the office hadn’t been attacked by a mob of angry taxpayers. And the office’s previous resident wasn’t a leper or someone with a raging case of measles. (Although some might say that would have been preferred.)
Turner is now sitting at the desk of disgraced New York City congressman Anthony Weiner – you know, the guy with the delightfully unfortunate name who Tweeted naked photos of himself to women (including a crotch shot from an aforementioned office chair).
The cause of the sanitation request would have been fairly benign in any other circumstance: a toothbrush. More specifically, a toothbrush with the name “Anthony” on it.
Now, there weren’t too many other details about the state of Weiner’s old office. We don’t know exactly how dirty it was (It’s kind of understandable how he might have forgotten his toothbrush given that he did kind of leave in a hurry, right?)
But we thought we’d use this little incident to chat about grimy offices and cubicles. Specifically, what to do when you inherit someone else’s mess.
We’d hope that in most companies, an employee would be required to clean out his or her desk upon departure. No one wants to inherit 10 years’ worth of coffee stains and donut crumbs on top of piles of expense reports dating back to 1994. At the minimum, the previous office/cubicle resident should clean out all of their personal affects and hopefully, any nonessential documents.
Now, if the person doesn’t do this – maybe they, too, left office in a bit of a hurry – then a supervisor or HR representative should make sure to clear out the excess junk before you arrive. It’d be nice if they wiped everything down, too, so you’re not starting off a new gig in accumulated grime.
In fact, OSHA laws require a minimum level of cleanliness to protect workers’ health in the office. If the conditions at your new desk or office are completely unacceptable – and potentially hazardous to your health – you should definitely talk to your supervisor.
Even with laws in place, it’s probably not a bad idea for you do your own disinfecting for some peace of mind.
Arrive with spray in hand and pay special attention to door knobs, arm rests, phones, keyboards, computer mice, and drawer handles – anything someone would have been touching frequently with their hands.
If furniture looks … errr … well-used … talk to your supervisor about replacing it.
Dirty offices and the desire for better security and image have prompted some companies to create clean desk policies that forbid employees from leaving any personal items on their desks.
Apparently, Congress doesn’t doesn’t have a clean-desk policy – or a No Toothbrush Left Behind Act for that matter.
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