I have worked in offices for over thirty years. I have worked in small offices, just a single room with two co-workers in a cinder block building in the middle of a nondescript industrial park (now known as the more-important sounding "business campus"). I have worked in big, multi-story, corporate headquarters of major corporations. There are a lot of things I like about working in an office. I like the structure. I like the uniformity. I like that coworkers (with a few exceptions) know their place and (again, with a few exceptions) know what is expected of them. I also like the free coffee.
Of all of the things I don't like about working in an office, one thing in particular bugs me more than anything. More than undecipherable corporate jargon. More than unresponsive coworkers. More than personal matters blasted through company email.
I hate when things are left for me on the seat of my office chair.
I don't know when this practice started. This phenomena has followed me and has been kept alive across several employers, so, obviously, it's not indigenous to one place nor is it one company's policy. The first time I came into work in the morning and discovered an assignment on the seat of my office chair, I assumed that it had just fallen off of my desk or, perhaps a breeze from a passing worker in a hurry rustled it up from its original position across my computer keyboard. But then, day after day, I would be greeted in the morning by several pages — from different co-workers or superiors — stacked every which way on the seat of my office chair.
I don't understand the motivation or the rationale. I have a perfectly good, sturdy desk, able to accommodate reams of paper — in addition to my computer, some pens, a stapler, a container of paper clips and a couple of PVC figurines of Mickey Mouse — without fear of collapsing. I am apt to see something of importance if it is impeding upon my ability to operate my keyboard or propped up and blocking my view of my monitor, than if it is lying on the place where I sit when I actually do the work that you are trying to get me to do. Leaving work on my desk along with an accompanying email, or even a Post-It, quickly noting "Hey Josh, I put the edits to the ad on your desk." would offer a better chance of me seeing what you left than placing it where I park my ass. Leaving work on my chair says to me: "I nearly missed the trashcan with this, but if you see it before your butt does, could you make these corrections?" If I'm not paying attention, there's a good chance I'm going to sit down on that crucial piece of work-related business and wrinkle it to the point where it needs to be reprinted. Placing it on my desk shows me that you hold your work at an esteemed level, that you have pride in what you produce and respect for your job.
The office is the only place that this practice exists. At least I hope it is. Face it, you wouldn't want the grill guy at McDonald's coming in to find a stack of hamburgers on the seat of his office chair. Although, the food there tastes like that's the case.