How to Prevent Office Supplies from Disappearing

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Do you work in an office?How to Prevent Office Supplies from Disappearing

Does it seem as if office supplies disappear into thin air on an all-too regular basis?

It can be extremely frustrating to have office supplies seemingly get up, and walk away in broad daylight.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to ensure your supplies stay in the supply closet or cabinet.

In this post, I offer several ways to account for and keep office supplies in check.

Keep communal supplies under lock and key.

Control the flow of office supplies by storing them in a single location, such as a closet, cabinet, or other enclosed space.

Having items spread out across an office only creates more restocking, and detective work, for you.

Assign a responsible party to oversee the ordering, storage, and distribution of supplies.

Remember, you can never be too careful.

Preferably, all parties, including the one assigned to oversee supplies, should be watched by senior management, just in case someone gets a little bit too sticky-fingered on the sly!

Institute office supply policies.

One way to prevent a mass migration of pens, pencils, and notepads, is to set up your very own office supply policies.

Yeah, these might not be too popular with folks, but the idea here is to slow down any would-be thieves.

On the bright side, setting up policies might expose thieves quicker than not.

At the very least, you’ll have a paper trail for reference.

Once you find the culprit(s), you might relax, or possibly even eliminate policies altogether.

Until that day, here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have all office supply orders approved by a manager or supervisor.
  • Institute a maximum order limit per employee, either cash value (e.g. $100.00 limit), or quantities of items (2 boxes of pens, 1 case of paper).
  • Set up an office supply closet or cabinet sign-in sheet. People must sign in, and sign out, both supply types, amounts, and themselves.

Office Supply Checklist


Lock up and/or reconsider keeping supplies at the office.

Don’t tempt fate…or theft. If you’ve got a tantalizing set of cute/imported/expensive/sentimental office supplies at your desk, be sure to secure items up when you are away from your desk.

Have a lock on that filing cabinet or drawer? Use it! Place your treasured supplies in a small basket or container (for easy access), and lock items up when you’re not at your desk. Don’t forget to take the key with you on a wrist band, or on a keychain with your building ID.

Can’t stand the thought of losing that gold-plated letter opener that your father gave you on your graduation day, or that cute stapler your kid gave you for your birthday? You may want to reconsider keeping these items at the office in the first place.

How about you? Have you experienced office supply theft at your office? What steps have you taken to prevent paper, staplers, and tape from walking out of the supply cabinet? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 3 Smart Steps to Organizing Your Home, by clicking here.