I volunteer for our arts council which employs one half-time staff member. Every time our office manager is out of the office, is coming in late or is leaving early she sends the officers an email telling us the times during regular office hours that she will not be there.
At first, this seemed like a frivolous thing to do, but the more I thought about it, I realized that it is a simple way to avert any suspicion or problems. I do not question her integrity at all, in part because of these emails that shows she honors her time commitments to us.
When you have a good employee, it is easy to give them a large amount of freedom and access. When you have an employee that takes advantage of latitude or that you suspect of doing undesirable deeds, it becomes clear that they need to be reigned in.
The problem comes in when you have a good employee -- or someone to whom you gave a great deal of autonomy -- who then starts having problems. It becomes very difficult to pull back on access or privileges without a confrontation or making a bad situation worse.
Having policies in place from the beginning that are designed to prevent suspicion or problems before they are needed is most appropriate. Good employees will have no trouble following them and it may avert trouble with others. You certainly don't want to go overboard and monitor every little thing, but setting the expectations early and making it clear which deviations should be noted is a helpful way to have clear boundaries.
There are checks and balances on many processes and procedures in office life. If you make those expectations part of the natural routine, it will make life much smoother than having to institute them in an undesirable situation.
-- beth triplett