Monday, December 5, 2011

Thoughts on working from home (or while you're away)

As the holidays crash down upon us (or maybe it's just me), it seems sometimes like both the pace and volume at work is increasing along with the pace and volume of holiday and family activities that are required of us.  Deadlines, projects, travel, parties, family gatherings, and volunteer activities might leave us wondering how we're supposed to get everything done this month?  Something has to give, doesn't it?  Maybe if we were able to work from home or on one of our days of vacation...maybe that would help.  Or would it?

The first thing to know about working from home is that any work you do on a project belongs to the company and is therefore subject to examination if a legal claim were to arise on that project.  This means that if you get CAD or Illustrator installed on your computer at home and work on a project for work while your family is in town, your home computer may have to be turned over to a legal team if a lawsuit arises regarding that project.  Think of it like this: if you're working on a project on any computer in the world, your company "owns" that computer while you're working on that project.

The solution then would be to borrow a company-owned laptop with the necessary software and connections to your company's server while you're away.  Just be sure that, before you take that machine out of the office, you understand how to protect it and what your responsibilities are if someone hacks the machine while you're using a public wifi system to connect back to the office.  Another caveat: be cautious with using the laptop for non-work reasons.  It's one thing to watch a few funny videos on or buy your parents a fruit bouquet from or something, but it's another to shop or surf racy or questionable sites.  If your company's IT staff doesn't clean these laptops after someone returns them (and even if they do), someone else can see what you've been doing on this laptop, whether or not you erase the browser history.

The final thing to remember is that your vacation/personal time off is just that: personal.  Yes, sometimes duty calls, but do your best to get a clean break from work and rest.  You'll be much more productive when January rolls around.

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