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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ask the Boss

Q: When it comes to staff "borrowing" or taking home office supplies, where should a boss draw the line? In which cases is some kind of action required and what should that action be?

Mark Britten general director, KeySpace, Russia:

"I think that any form of 'borrowing' from the company should not be tolerated, unless it is completely open and agreed in advance. If the borrowing starts with stationery, etc, then it can quickly lead to the office printer, computers and needed equipment. Action should follow the company policy, whatever that company policy is.

"Well, let's say the employee was 'borrowing' pens and low-value goods, a verbal warning would be sufficient. I suppose it all depends on what level the 'borrowing' is. If it was, for example, a computer of high value, or a necessary item that is difficult to replace, then in my opinion that should be a sackable offense."

Michael Bartley, director, Four Squares real estate agency:

"Four Squares' managers spend a lot of time out of the office with clients, and draw on office supplies and equipment when necessary -- including laptops and digital cameras for photographing properties. Although office supplies are a steady cost to the business, we take a liberal view on their use as long as the work is carried out to a high standard. It is a balancing act, maintaining internal financial discipline while encouraging creativity and responsibility.

"If a manager took company equipment for private use on more than one occasion and did not notify their line manager in advance, then we would definitely call a meeting to clarify the situation and serve notice that it should not happen again.

"I do not have a problem if a manager takes a company digital camera to a wedding or christening as long as they ask in advance -- it is all about respect."

Nick Rees, entrepreneur:

"Personally, I think you have to treat staff like adults until a situation arises and usually, if there is a problem, a quiet word with the culprit should be enough. Russians tend to be very proud people and the thought of getting caught doing something that would be considered a stain on their family name -- this is something that I believe most would avoid.

"If there was still a major problem that was way out of hand, I think the easiest way to deal with it is to issue an internal memo warning people that secret cameras have been put in place to protect the property of all staff. This will make the guilty think a little. It also wouldn't harm to get your more senior staff to talk to a few people in the hope that they can resolve it themselves.

"If the theft continues and the cost was of a seriously significant sum, I would then advise the company to get in an outside security consultant, but this should be last resort."