Ask LH: Can I Get Parcels Delivered To Work?

Ask LH: Can I Get Parcels Delivered To Work?

Hey Lifehacker, One of the tricky things about online shopping is that the goods tend to arrive during business hours, and for those of us that don’t work from home, that means a trip to the post office to pick up the merchandise. However, when your local post office is only open during business hours, that presents some problems. The obvious solution is to use your workplace as the delivery address, but I wonder if there is any sort of etiquette here? How many items per month is reasonable? Do some types of work deal with this better than others? Cheers, Delivery Dilemma

Dear DD,

The short answer is: it very much depends on your employer and the type of work you do. If you work in a white collar job where mail gets delivered to your desk anyway, then the odd parcel or two is not going to make much difference. At Lifehacker’s publisher Allure Media, for instance, so many deliveries show up for work purposes as it is that the odd extra parcel due to online shopping isn’t going to be a concern. And if your boss expects you to put in long hours, it isn’t unreasonable to expect that some of those out-of-work-hours tasks be simplified by an online delivery.

If you work in an environment where you don’t have a fixed desk or where you’re largely off the premises, then it could be more complicated. And it’s easy to see why certain organisations (such as supermarkets or fast-food outlets) might ban the practice: there’s nowhere secure to store the delivered items and staff hours vary frequently.

All told, it’s simply good manners to establish whether or not this is accepted behaviour in your workplace. If you’re in a relatively small business, you can ask the boss directly. In larger organisations, check existing HR documents or ask your manager. And don’t go nuts: an item a week isn’t going to be a problem, but daily deliveries suggest you really need your own PO box.

Speaking again in general terms, smaller items such as books or clothing are rarely an issue. What might be unreasonable? If you’re in a large workplace, you might need to think twice about getting something large or delicate (such as a big-screen TV or a crate of wine) delivered to the office. At the very least, you should let the relevant area of your business know that you’re expecting something to be delivered on a given date, and promise to take it off their hands as soon as possible.

One final thought: if you’re having goods delivered to work, it’s often worth paying extra for delivery tracking (via registered mail/Express Post registered mail or through a courier), to ensure you can see when the item is due and that it’s signed for when it arrives. With standard postal items, if something goes missing between the mail system and your desk, chances are you won’t be able to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Also check with your post office – they sometimes have a back-door counter that is open outside normal hours for parcel pickup, specifically for those of us stuck 9-5 in the office.

    • and this is a great service. 24 hour availability, and pretty much big enough to hold most items.
      Luckily, St Leonards is just down the road from me.

  • Another hint to add is spend a bit of time scouting who actually receives the parcels. Even in medium size organisations it is normally one person or group, in which case a simple “Hey do you mind?” question is just good manners. 99% of the time it will be “Sure, no sweat!”

  • I had my new chair for my home office delivered to work, unpacked it and sat in it all day at work. Turned out it didn’t fit in the car, had to have it delivered home…

    Next time I make sure it fits in the car… 😉

  • My white collar workplace banned he delivery of personal packages about 12 months ago – it’s hugely frustrating. The occasional item can slip through but things that are recongisably personal (e.g. Catch of the Day or Amazon packaging) are returned to sender by our mail room. I’ve no paid for a post box at a post office quite some distance from where I live because it is at least open on Saturday mornings when I don’t have to work andthey will hold packages – but for the sites that won’t deliver to a PO Box or for very large packages that I couldn’t reasonably expect the post office to hold I am out of luck. Wish more retailers would offer a service where they alert you to the date/time of your delivery – I can usually arrange to be home for a short time during the day if I know in advance.

    • I’m sure that those same retailers wish that the carriers can tell them the day and time of your delivery so that they can in turn tell you.

    • Hello there. I’m the Reuters e-commerce reporter in the US and I’m researching a story on which companies have banned the delivery of personal packages to work – and also what companies are doing to tackle this. If anyone has experienced this at their place of work, I would love to hear about it. I’m on [email protected]. Thanks, Alistair

  • I used to get small things delivered to the McDonalds restaurant I worked for. Worked ok since I usually had to sign for receipt when I was there and everyone knew my name and knew where to put it when I wasn’t. one day I was getting a Dell computer and monitor delivered to my home address but I was out so they left it at my workplace which they somehow knew. I wasn’t there either. The people on shift were not impressed with having to deal with it.

  • A lot of convenience stores and 711s offer to have your parcels delivered there, where you can pick them up when convenient to you. Small fee, but gets rid of a huge hassle.

  • If the company shipping uses Australian Air Express they seem to have an agreement with post offices that they can leave parcels there and the post office has paperwork for you to sign to release it. Works great. All couriers should do it.

      • I’ve had AAE deliver it directly to my local post office while updating the online delivery tracking to “No answer at home – delivered to local post office” or something like that . Pretty annoying because I specified I would be home that day and I was working near the front door!

        I’ve also caught them knocking on the gate (not the front door) then turning to leave. With that said it could just be the driver that services my area.

  • I get things delivered to my work, I work in a shared office with 2 ladies that work for a Financial planning company. I’m the only one from my company that works in the office so when I see the delivery guy come in and I’m expecting something I’ll jump up to sign it. Pretty good situation.
    In my 2 previous jobs I’ve had things delivered to the office and nobody seemed to mind. Given most of the stuff I order online is IT equipment and I work in IT, so nobody would have any idea whether it’s personal or not.

  • I have IP cameras setup at my place, so when a parcel is delivered, the camera starts e-mailing my phone with pictures of the delivery person. Then I either go to the post office on Saturday and pick it up or ring a family member and ask them to go pick it up for me. Most times I know exactly what it is and how valuable it is so this after-the-fact notification works well for me.

    Some couriers have forms you can fill out asking them to leave it in a location on the property that you think is secure enough – I wouldn’t do this unless you have a camera setup watching that location however (one that you can remote into or all IP cams have the ability to e-mail you & its not expensive to get a night vision IP cam and an electrician to mount it outside for you).

    If you have elderly parents or relatives, ask to use thier address as well – i’ve done this for larger or more valuable items and it works well since someone is always home. If you trust your neighbours you could go that way too.

  • Please be aware that many online sellers will not deliver to PO boxes. I have one, but most things other than books still have to be delivered to work because many sellers use couriers who demand a human recipient and signature.

    PO boxes are great and useful in many ways, but can’t be relied on to avoid all workplace deliveries.

  • I get lots of stuff delivered to work. I’d probably have some explaining to do if some of my hardcore gay porn ever got opened by mistake in the mail room.

  • I never thought of this as an issue but it makes sense. I once ordered a bicycle and had it delivered to the work address without telling anyone as I thought I’d be able to sign for it on the day (I use to sit in view of the entrance). Unfortunately I was sick that day. I then proceeded to assemble it at the end of the day but while pumping up the tyres it decided to blow out on me.

    I’m pretty sure my colleagues didn’t appreciate the loud explosion but I’m thankful they let it slide. Suffice to say I have never attempted to replicate the incident.

  • I have a PO Box.
    It’s not much use for deliveries though, as the only courier I’ve found that can deliver to a PO Box is Australian Air Express, because they are partners with Aus Post. I’m yet to find an overseas seller that can deliver to a PO Box.

    Someone above mentioned convenience stores accepting deliveries. I’m definitely going to ask my local corner store if they’ll do this for me. They all know me as I’m in there every other day on my way home from work.

    • Uh… I can’t vouch for all online stores but I regularly get things from ASOS, Bookdepository, Redbubble and various ebay sellers from overseas sent to my PO Box. (I know that ASOS and Redbubble now ship from warehouses in Australia, but they shipped to my PO Box before they started that practice, too.)

  • Only just came across this post, but I can recommend our company, ParcelPoint (, which solves exactly this problem. We have a growing network of stores across Australia, adding more each week! If there’s not one close to you, then let us know.

  • Unfortunately most workplaces dont like you using their address or company for your personal parcels or deliveries.Maybe once apon a time they would but now its just another act of scumbaggery employers add to their arsenal of showing you as an employee that you are nothing to them

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