National Survey Reveals Truth Behind Disappearing Office Supplies

New survey explores the “Supply-Jackers” in offices nationwide and why employed Americans pilfer office supplies

Naperville, Ill., June 8, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — It happens all the time. You get a new package of your favorite pens, and within days, they start to disappear. According to the OfficeMax® Workplace Undercover Survey¹ conducted by Kelton Research in May 2010, employed Americans are no stranger to this scenario as supplies in the workplace go missing quite often. In fact, workspaces across the nation seem to be dwindling in supplies – and your co-workers are taking them.

More than four in ten (42%) employed Americans confess they’ve borrowed supplies from a colleague and never returned them. In their defense, 84 percent of “Supply-Jackers” who admittedly keep their colleague’s supplies confess they simply forgot to return them. Others (26%) say they didn’t think the person would miss it, and close to a quarter (23%) take revenge on coworkers saying they chose not to return the supplies because their colleague had done the same to them. Eighty-one percent of professionals who report missing supplies say that pens, pencils, or highlighters disappear from their work area most often. Other vanishing goods include paper products (35%), paper clips or binder clips (28%), staplers (22%), and scissors (20%).

Co-workers aren’t the only target for pilfering by “Supply-Jackers.” Close to six in ten (56%) employed Americans admittedly take products from their employer for their personal use at home. Three in ten (30%) working Americans who take supplies home say they considered it an act of borrowing and planned to bring the items back. Twenty-five percent say they didn’t think their employer would really miss the supplies. Feeling pressed for time, some admit pilfering products because it was easier to take supplies from their office than purchase them (27%) or because they simply did not have time to get the items outside of work (24%).

With supplies disappearing left and right, it’s not surprising that a majority (68%) of working Americans have taken matters into their own hands by finding ways to ensure their favorite supplies stay put. Some keep their much-loved office supplies in a special drawer (59%) or in a secret hiding space in their work area (45%). Some workers accept that supplies will be pilfered and protect their interests by ordering extra quantities of certain products to ensure they never run low (51%). Others attempt to defend their supplies by labeling them with their contact information so the owner is never in question (31%). More employed women than men (73% vs. 63%) have reportedly taken steps to ensure their supplies remain in their workspace.

Working Americans may be protecting their favorite supplies because close to half (46%) say that having quality office equipment plays a critical role in being successful on the job. Seventy percent of professionals willing to weigh in say it’s impossible to work without their favorite brand, type or model of pens, pencils or highlighters. In fact, 34 percent bring in their own stash of supplies if the office is lacking. Others say they can’t work at all if they are not able to get their hands on paper products (41%) or printer ink (40%) in their favorite brand, type or model.

So what makes a product so valuable to employed Americans? Close to seven in ten (69%) say the functionality or performance of an office product can make or break how special and important the item is to their productivity. Quality (66%), value (47%), innovation (41%), and aesthetics (25%) also influence why working Americans are so fond of and particular about their office supplies.

About OfficeMax

OfficeMax Incorporated (NYSE: OMX) is a leader in both business-to-business office products solutions and retail office equipment. The OfficeMax mission is simple. We help our customers do their best work. The company provides office supplies and paper, in-store print and document services through OfficeMax ImPress®, technology products and solutions, and office furniture to consumers and to large, medium and small businesses. OfficeMax customers are served by more than 30,000 associates through direct sales, catalogs,
e-commerce and more than 1,000 stores. For more information, visit OfficeMax.com.

Research Methodological Notes:

The OfficeMax Workplace Undercover Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between April 23 and May 2, 2010 using Random Digit Dialing of listed and unlisted numbers. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.0 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.



1A national telephone study among 593 employed Americans ages 18-years and over