Taking Home a Pack of Paper? Yes, It’s Stealing

Getting a Grip - Personal workplace advice from Handshake 2.0Dear Getting a Grip:

So, I take home a pack of paper from work every once in awhile. I work from home on weekends and print documents for work. Why should I use my own personal supplies for the company’s work product? They won’t miss it anyway. What’s the big deal?

Dear Paper:

With so many people at so many companies working remotely, working overtime, and going the extra mile – all at home – the divide between work and home barely exists. Many people use their own personal computers and laptops, mobile devices and office supplies just to get the job done so when they’re done, they can really be at home.

When employers and employees have clearly expressed expectations of who’s doing what where and for how long, clarity about whose stuff will be used to do the work is straightforward to determine or negotiate. When those expectations aren’t spelled out, or are unspoken, the work/home divide and the company property/personal property divide are ethics-challengingly blurry. Many employees feel overworked and underpaid and can feel they deserve more than they are receiving.

Getting a Grip:

Deserved or not, unless it’s in the contract that an employee is to be compensated with such, leaving the building with a package of paper, highlighters for the kids, or the change left over from a petty cash purchase is stealing.


Need to start “Getting a Grip” on a personal problem at work? Need workplace advice? E-mail your question to [email protected].

Getting a Grip, a workplace advice column, is written by Anne Giles Clelland. Getting a Grip regrets that not all questions can be answered, personal replies are not possible, and questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Anne's Giles Clelland's workplace advice column appears monthly in Valley Business FRONT. A version of this column appeared in the December 2010 issue.

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