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Etiquette: contractors and office food

FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARDinterior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I do a lot of IT contract work and I have certain offices that I go to on a weekly or semiweekly basis.

Generally speaking when I go to a client's office, I don't touch the coffee machine, the free sodas (if they have any), the office snacks, donuts/bagels, etc.

Recently, though, I've been spending all day, often multiple days in a row at a client's office. So rather than take them off the clock and walk over to a Starbucks, I've just been drinking the office coffee and availing myself of a half of an office bagel, or other similar minor benefits.

Is this reasonable, or rude?

every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
Feral on

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    Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Ooh, that's a toughy. I mean, it seems reasonable, but I have to wonder if the office people would take it negatively. I'd probably give a "wtf" if I saw the copier repair guy filling up a cup as he's working on the copier there, but if he was there a lot it wouldn't be as big of a deal.

    Truthfully, I think the office people are rude for not offering you something if you're there a lot.

    Sir Carcass on
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    urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    It's reasonable. I used to work IT and did the same. Now if you were grabbing 4 bagels or something I'd say then it'd be rude. But if you really want to clear your conscience ask them if it's okay. I'm sure they won't have a problem with it, since you're IT.

    urahonky on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    I'd just ask. It's probably awkward, but a lot less awkward after someone goes, "uh, what're you doing?"

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2010
    If it's a coffee club type thing, then it's rude unless you ask. The employees around you paid for that coffee, dammit! Rita went out and picked up the milk this morning you theiving fuck!


    If it's a coffee services thing, like they have a keurig or flavia used by multiple teams, it's coming out of the facilities budget and everyone basically LOLs at them anyway.

    Deebaser on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2010
    When I was temping, it varied from facility to facility. One place told me in my orientation meeting my first morning that I didn't really work there, no one liked me, and if there was ever a question about whether I was allowed to do something like eat food that was out for everyone, the answer is no. That job was awful. Most everywhere else I worked went out of their way to make sure I felt like part of the office when I was there.

    You probably have a client contact for that site.. if you're nervous about it you can ask them, but chances are if you aren't making a big show of walking around with armfuls of free food, unless they said something to you when you started, no one really cares.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Yeah, the only issue I can see is if there's hardly enough food and they have big eaters (like my office). People get grumpy when the guy cleaning the furnace helps himself to the coffee the office buys and then eats a doughnut provided by our boss. And then one person doesn't get a doughnut because they were busy and didn't get in the room till 10.

    If you find there's always like 8 bagels or donuts left over, help yourself to one. Why not.

    Bring in donuts if you're concerned about hurting anyone's feelings, then the next few days you don't have to feel guilty about taking 1. That should work.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    People get real touchy about food and drink in the office, unless explicitly offered, I would personally not partake.

    Dark_Side on
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    illigillig Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Is this company provided stuff? Or do employees chip in to buy the coffee and bagels?

    The 1st makes it ok in my book. The second is a high offense of you don't contribute.

    illig on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Thanks guys.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    jedikuonjijedikuonji Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    We have people in and out all the time between repair techs and temps. They're welcome to anything, but most just ask and get told to help themselves.

    jedikuonji on
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    FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    It is quite rude. I am surprised that you have not been confronted by one of the staff about this.

    Fantasma on
    Hear my warnings, unbelievers. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our gods. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Put down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos!
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    ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    my last job had a quarter cup by the coffee machine - to help fund supplies, when you grabbed a cup of coffee you were supposed to toss a quarter in. My current job doesn't do this (and has far superior coffee, but is also a tinier office), but you could always offer to throw a dollar in for every cup of coffee and bagel together that you grab - not freeloading but saving yourself the effort of walking to another store for coffee

    ihmmy on
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    ransimransim Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    illig wrote: »
    Is this company provided stuff? Or do employees chip in to buy the coffee and bagels?

    The 1st makes it ok in my book. The second is a high offense of you don't contribute.

    This.

    If it was food that I'd chipped in for, while I might not care I would rather the person asked.

    But if someone takes coffee from the coffee bot downstairs or snacks that are left out after events I have zero problem with it.

    Best bet, just ask.

    ransim on
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    EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    As apparently minor as it sounds, if you are a contracted service, this answer to this probably falls inside that contract somewhere.

    I know for my job, offering doughnuts is fine at meetings, but if you make it BAGELS you better be sure that everyone in the meeting is working for the company or else it's a big issue. Not even kidding... since it uses a knife to spread on butter/cream cheese/whatever they count it as a meal, whereas a doughnut is finger food and therefore considered a trivial expense.

    Point is, ask someone higher up or your local contact(s) at the office(s) if you don't know. It may be trivial but it would be worse if you got bumped off the job and/or fired because some dumbass takes offense at you helping yourself to a cup of coffee on a long shift.

    EclecticGroove on
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    Susan DelgadoSusan Delgado Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    I'm with Sir Carcass... It seems rude of the office staff not to offer you anything when you're there often.

    When I was working for a medical practice we were switching all our records and scheduling to a new electronic system... our IT guys were there constantly and whenever we had food, or even drug rep lunches, we would always offer them stuff.

    Susan Delgado on
    Go then, there are other worlds than these.
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    ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    I can't see anyone getting upset over a cup of coffee.


    But I have to ask, Feral, did someone say something over a cup of coffee?

    Shogun on
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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Obvious gray area here. Just ask your company contact or your ostensible "on-site supervisor" if it's acceptable. You could also pore over your contract, but this is probably more of a social issue than a legal one, and getting your supervisor's OK would count as due diligence.

    It also wouldn't hurt to get clarification on where the money for the stuff is coming from, and if it's a group thing (i.e., employees pay "directly" for it), then it would be good etiquette to mention that you didn't realize it and that you'd be happy to chip in and maybe pay for a batch one day as well.

    Inquisitor77 on
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    InfidelInfidel Heretic Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    The foolproof method that works for me is to ask if there is a coffee pool.

    Then some employee will either tell me "yeah, you want in chip in a quarter a cup" etc. or to help myself, and I have coffee without any inappropriate assumptions.

    Infidel on
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    DeusfauxDeusfaux Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    i cant believe how many posts are about people's opinions on whether it's okay or not

    the only opinions that matter are those/the boss of/ the office.

    ask them, and you no longer have to wonder

    that's the only reasonable thing to do, apart from not touch it, period

    Deusfaux on
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    WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    If you dont wanna ask, then break the ice by contributing. Bring in a box of donuts or some brewable coffee - invite them to partake. Set it up as a communal event and you can enjoy the occasional free snack, as well as provide a few to hungry office workers.

    High fives all around

    WildEEP on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Shogun wrote: »
    I can't see anyone getting upset over a cup of coffee.


    But I have to ask, Feral, did someone say something over a cup of coffee?

    Nope. Quite the opposite. I always ignore the coffee and snacks and recently (within the same week) employees at two of my biggest clients mentioned that they noticed it.

    In fact, the receptionist at one of my clients started bringing me coffee when she'd bring the boss coffee. It made me kind of uncomfortable at first (the whole idea of the receptionist running out for coffee feels very Mad Men to me).

    I was mostly wondering what the most common attitudes were. Breaking the ice by contributing is an A++ idea, BTW.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FloowidFloowid Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I am an IT contractor, and the worst type at that - a defense contractor. While it is true my services are contracted, I have been in the same desk at the client site for over 3 years, and consider myself part of the crew. If the client site becomes your workplace, then I feel you should be within your rights to make yourself comfortable in your job. My co-workers and client higher ups feel the same, and I am included on the emails that go out saying "Donuts in the break room." or even free lunch on the boss for certain occasions. Definitely DO find out if your contract or the client stipulates a policy regarding gifts and such, but I think if you are "assigned" to the client and work exclusively on their grounds for an extended period of time, it only seems natural to participate in the contributing and consuming of coffee/treats.

    Floowid on
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    DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    Shogun wrote: »

    It made me kind of uncomfortable at first (the whole idea of the receptionist running out for coffee feels very Mad Men to me).

    1. You're saying that like it's a bad thing. Mad Men is pimp.

    2. It isn't even slightly "Mad Men". If she was bringing you a scotch while you were smoking in the office and cheating on your wife with said secretary, then that would be "Mad Men".

    Receptionists and interns get coffee. It's part of the social contract... or something.

    Deebaser on
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