I always joke when someone is leaving from my team at MegaCorp that they shouldn’t “steal our pencils!” It’s just a funny way to acknowledge an ugly side of the workplace – that people sometimes take more than their last paycheck with them when they go. This article from a radio station in Texas (KNIN Radio) says that office supply theft is about $3.2B a year (US only). The most common things swiped are Post-it Notes, Scotch Tape, scissors, toilet paper (really!), and copier paper.
That’s a ton of money, but exponentially more of it happens through financial fraud than office supplies. In fact, one study from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners suggests that 5% of company revenues are lost to fraud each year. That amount was well over $3 trillion dollars (global) in 2014!
Some of that fraud takes place when files that are confidential or carry trade secrets are copied from the company server. I recently learned about some of the amazing ways that our company can track emails and files that move in & out of the company network. There is a whole career set up around “computer forensic specialists” who operate as corporate detectives and can protect the MegaCorp’s interests. The data they can look up and connections they can make are truly incredible.
Is it OK to take information from your office with you when you retire? This article from PCworld.com is titled “Leaving Your Job? Take Your Data With You”. It mostly focuses on bringing your contact information with you, but the last paragraph of the article wisely cautions against attempting to take proprietary or confidential information. Good call.
My advice – don’t steal the pencils (or anything else)!
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