Copier rules: Is a co-worker jamming up the works?

by EPI Staff on April 12, 2011

Q: In my office, when the copier breaks, people never bother informing the office manager so she can call the repair service. If the machine malfunctions while you’re using it, shouldn’t you take that much responsibility?

A: You bet. When the paper jams or the toner runs dry, silently slinking away is akin to letting your boss go into a meeting with spinach in her teeth. For the common good, everyone should take the few minutes needed to report the problem. You could also suggest that a sign by posted to remind people of the appropriate procedure when the copier breaks down.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth April 12, 2011 at 6:10 am

In situations like this, I think people are most likely to do the right thing if: first, it is clear what they should do and, second, they can integrate that task with a minimum of bother. So, if instructions are posted and if the instructions require an email (as opposed to walking down to someone’s office), the officemates will be more likely to report the service outage instead of just attending to their immediate printing needs at another printer.

I think if it happens infrequently, people are more likely to be helpful and report it. But if it happens all the time, they will merely see it as an obstacle to completing their own work, and I don’t think this is an unreasonable course of action.

If jambs and other service outages happen with relative frequency, it might be the job of the office manager to monitor it more closely or the company might consider leasing a higher-quality machine that can handle the work load.

Of course, if the malfunction is directly caused by an individuals mis-use or mishandling of the equipment, they they are absolutely obligated to aid in its repair.


Jody April 12, 2011 at 11:59 am

I work in a large office, and it’s very frustrating when people walk away and leave a machine malfunctioning. If you can’t fix it yourself (which sometimes you can’t), at least post a note that the machine has been reported to management as needing repair.


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