I worked for a small company where the owners at times were stuck on phone calls through lunch and would ask someone who didn't have an immediate deadline coming up to get them food, and provide money for that person to get themselves food as well. It was nice because we would have been willing to pick something up for them anyway without them paying for our food, too.

When the admins were out picking up supplies, sick or whatever, we would fill in answering the phones. Because there were incoming service calls they had to be answered.

Rather than being insulted, we all felt it was part of chipping in to get what needed done. Certainly had getting lunch or answering phones kept us from doing our own jobs we would have explained to the owner that it was interfering and been exempt from requests, and there were times that was the case for everyone.

I think there's an attitude problem in the office, whether it's yours or that of the bosses. I don't think being asked to chip in with answering phones is a problem at all.
Originally Posted by NetG
I agree with NetG - I am a VP/Director level and I would pitch in and answer the phones or sit at the reception desk if it was needed so the receptionist could get a break. I am not sure why you see it as so degrading - those jobs are important jobs too, I am not above doing needed tasks at work. I'm not going to fetch dry cleaning or coffee for people because those are personal errands, but I'll answer phones, make copies, get supplies, etc.

If you are a senior member of the team and feel that this is not the most effective way to handle this situation then handle it in a professional manner and put together your own proposal for who should provide coverage and what the schedule should be and present it to the team in charge along with the reasons why your plan will save money, better optimize skillsets or more evenly distribute the burden amongst a larger pool of people. I understand being annoyed or ticked off at having to do it, but sitting and crying over it isn't going to fix it and isn't really demonstrating that you are too high level to waste your time at reception.

Either that, or as others have said, maybe you should find a new job where you don't have to do anything you think is beneath you.
Originally Posted by rileyb
But in her defense, she mentioned that her team just went thru a big restructuring and, during that process, she lost her major projects. Then she was moved to another area, where she is doing a type of work she hasn't done in years. Clearly, she feels her position isn't very secure under the new management.

Maybe if her job situation felt secure to her, she wouldn't feel so nervous about taking on the receptionist responsibility.

I don't think she is saying this out of arrogance but out of fear and frustration that it could be sabotaging her career.

Also, some of this depends on company/organization size. In smaller orgs, ppl filling in and wearing multiple hats as situations merit, is typical. In larger orgs, there are more clearly-defined levels of responsibility that employees generally don't cross. (At least that has been the case iME.)