On Friday afternoon Ms. Judith Frater locked her metal cabinet containing the important documents she needed to start the following week’s work, including some cheques that were to be sent out on Monday morning. In the cabinet, she had also placed the keys to the cash register, the stationery cabinet, and the grocery for snacks. After double-checking to ensure that she had all her keys, she placed them in her handbag and left the office. She had just reached home when the phone rang. It was a call informing her that her twin sister who was living in the Bahamas had been rushed to hospital. Without waiting for more details she packed her bag and drove to the airport. But just before she left home she sent an email to her secretary which she would have received at work on Monday morning. She was in no mood to speak to anyone. Jan Smart, Ms. Fraser’s secretary, reached work early that morning and used the quiet time to read her email messages. After reading Ms. Fraser’s note she drew a deep breath and went to the outer office to pass the information on to the rest of the staff. “We’re so sorry to hear that. We hope it’s not too serious,” they all said. “So where did she say she left the spare keys?” they asked. “You know all the keys are kept in her cabinet on the weekend.” “Oh! She didn’t say anything about the keys!” Ms. Smart, trying not to panic, though: Maybe Ms. Lindo, her assistant, has a set of keys. She went to find Ms Lindo who was trying to get a cup of coffee, only to find that all the supplies were locked away and “the boss” had not come in yet. “Well she’s not coming in today,” Ms. Smart said. “Have you got a set of keys?” “Who me? I have never been given any keys and I really don’t want to be responsible for any keys.”
“People around here think everybody is a thief, so they have to lock up everything and take away the keys. Well, if we cant open the place we don’t have to work, and that suits me fine.” But that was a small problem compared with the cash register situation. Customers were pouring into the office and no financial transactions could take place. The matter had to be reported to Mr. Charles, Office Superintendent, as it was necessary for the keys to be replaced. It was suggested that the office cabinet should be opened but Mr. Charles would not have it. He said he felt it was unethical to open the lady’s cabinet in her absence. The only option was to call a locksmith to open all the areas for which the keys were not available. It was two hours before someone eventually came, and there was chaos everywhere. Customers who had come to collect cheques had to leave, expressing their disgust with management. Staff members accustomed to having refreshments by 10:00 am had been quite put out. A junior member of the accounts branch expressed the view that the cost of all this waste of time and money should be charged to the lady’s salary. Required A. Give a critical evaluation of the process followed by Ms. Fraser to manage property safety and security in the office (15 marks) B. Suggest alternative method that can be used by Ms. Fraser (15 marks)
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