Karla: Strictly speaking, when it comes to the office, “my space” encompasses your epidermis and anything fastened thereto. The facilities, unless specifically restricted, are there for the use of everyone hired by the company. So forget about marking your territory; in terms of property ownership, you’re a serf.
Granted, in practice, we all bristle when “our” workspace is invaded. Further, it’s obnoxious of your neighbors to hold meetings in an assigned office without even the courtesy of a heads-up to the regular occupant. But instigating a border dispute, even politely, is not going to win you any points with management or the favored ones.
That’s not to say that your only option is to sit and mutter helplessly as boxes are piled around you, like Milton in the movie “Office Space.” You can ask management to designate an unoccupied conference room as the elite team’s HQ — you know, for their privacy and convenience. If the stored furniture is hampering your group’s work, get management’s permission to relocate it to another (indoor) location unless the Leets want to move it to their own preferred site. If you work with confidential files or sensitive information, ask to have a lock installed on your office door — to protect the company’s assets, not “your” space.
The common factor in these suggestions: securing support from the ones who have final say over how the space is used.
(There are less-professional deterrents — missing light bulb, “biohazard” sign on door, opened sardine tin in trash can — but it would be irresponsible of me even to suggest them.)
As for pleasantries, you can always lob the first “Good morning.” When outside teams are brought in to “streamline” things, being on their good side isn’t a bad idea.
Thanks to Sharon Snyder of Ober | Kaler.
Karla L. Miller is ready to hear your work dramas and traumas. Send your questions to
email@example.com. You can also find her on Twitter,