Mixing Business with Pleasure: Personal Laptops in the Workplace
Notebook computers have the potential to be extremely productive in workplace environments because of their mobility and compact designs. For a traveling business person, there is no tool greater than a laptop, simply because it allows for a personal computing experience regardless of location. However, some workplaces do not opt to provide their employees with laptops. While many employees simply accept this restriction to their productivity, other employees often choose to bring their personal notebook computers to work with them. This raises the question: is this a wise move?
First, any employee who is considering bringing and using a personal computer to work or for work-related duties should consult their employee handbook to see if such practice is allowed. Even the most basic employee handbook should have a section regarding this issue; usually located as a sub-section to the technology or infrastructure policies. However, if you cannot find a definitive answer in your handbook, the best person to ask is usually the person in charge of IT.
If it turns out that your company does not allow the use of personal computers, then you should definitely abide by said rule, even if it means that you are unable to perform to your full potential.
We often hear that it is unwise to “mix business with pleasure.” For this reason, you will want to separate your work-related files from your personal files as much as possible. Every modern operating system has the ability to create multiple user accounts on the same computer. Taking advantage of this feature in your operating system can allow you to separate your files to a certain degree
However, for power users, I would highly recommend the use of either a virtual machine or the partitioning of the computers hard drive for the installation of a separate operating system dedicated for business use.
Why do I recommend this level of separation? The answer to this question is simply the fact that it allows you to not only prevent the distractions of your personal computing experience, but also allows you to keep your content more organized as well. This being, installing a dedicated work-related operating system will prevent you from installing bulky and bothersome software on your personal partition, ultimately keeping it clean and tidy. Doing so will also ensure that your workplace settings (networking, etc) do not interfere with those for your personal computing experiences.
Additionally, some companies elect to install monitoring software on all employee computers. In this scenario, having a separate operating system that is used exclusively for work will ensure that the monitoring software doesn’t work its way into your personal life; ultimately saving you great deals of aggravation and potential embarrassment in the long run.
But what if you’re an employer? Should you allow your employees to use their personal notebooks for work-related duties? The answer to this question rests solely in your trust for the people you hire, as well as the amount of information that they have access to. Having said this, fast networking speeds and large hard-drive sizes feed the potential for an employee to walk off with a great deal of sensitive information. However with a secure network infrastructure in place that allows an employee limited access to your sensitive information, as well as a certain level of trust for your employees, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. After all, the risk of an employee using a laptop to copy sensitive information is about the same as the employee using a pen drive or external hard-drive. And when you weigh the risks, the fact remains that in many cases, allowing employees to use personal laptops gives them the potential to be more productive, and ultimately more profitable for you.