So, you’ve landed the job, started your first day, and right away you are handed a laptop and an iPhone for company use. I.T. was gracious enough to remember to provide you with all the logins you need, and you begin the set-up process to that you can get to do the work being paid for. Before you get neck deep in logins and passwords, here’s 3 things you should know about company issued devices and your privacy;
1. The physical device is not yours to keep!
What seems like a no-brainer always comes up at the time of termination when people are surprised that the phone, they’ve been using for 5 years is not theirs to keep. This is especially prevalent with older workers, who may not have a personal cell phone as well. Many consider the work cell phone to be their primary phone, and that can cause a lot of problems for 2 reasons; 1. If you use your work phone for personal reasons, it becomes a taxable benefit, and it is not worth adding to your T4 at the end of the year, and 2. Your phone is company property, and must be returned to I.T. upon request. If you have personal photos or documents on there that are not intended for company purposes, you may have lost access to them, as well as provided them to the employer for their purposes. I suggest always maintaining a personal phone, even it is only used of simple communication with immediate family and friends, as “work-life balance” means more than just heading home at 5 p.m. and not working 24 hours a day.
2. Social Media and your work life Do. NOT. Mix!
Social media has been a powerful tool for connecting millions of people across the world, but a dangerous weapon to connect with your company. While most HR professionals would caution manager against bringing social media comments or posts into the work place, an irate post can escalate to a termination request to HR quickly. In Canada, freedom of expression is not absolute. In Section 1 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the government can pass laws that limit free expression so long as the limits are reasonable and can be justified in a free and democratic society. The same can apply to company policies, which are not laws, however are part of an employment agreement, so it best to understand what limits you have to your speech while working at an organization. Often you will see blockers on company Wi-Fi for social media sites, which companies can impose. And going back to the first point, if you login to social media on a work device, I.T. may be granted access to you social media if they need to conduct maintenance on your device in the future. Best practice when it comes to social media; keep it on your own devices, on your own time.
3. Know your limits!
With the divide between the work day and home as clear as pea soup, you may not know when you shouldn’t be answering your phone. The best solution to this problem is to ask. As your boss about their expectation as to when they can contact you and let them know your expectation on when to answer. There is nothing wrong in setting limits for yourself and advising those around you to respect your time. Whether salary or hourly, you cannot be expected to be on call 24/7, unless you are an emergency responder or hold the nuclear codes. You may feel pressured to operate in a certain way based on how your coworkers operate, however speaking up and letting other know about the value of personal time will give them license to do the same. Most emails and phone calls can be resolved in the next business day, and while there are some differences between how different generations operate, the idea of a 9 to 5 work day is still very much alive, so use that to your advantage. There are settings on phones such as “Do Not Disturb” mode on iPhone that will alert you if multiple texts or calls come through for the same person, so that may help as well with not answering non-urgent matters at work. The goal of this technology is communicating, so use it for that purpose and express yourself thoughtfully and respectfully. You will thank yourself in the long run for setting these expectations early.
Whether you work for Skynet or the Borg, technology in the workplace can be great to connect, or try to take over your world. Your best tool to combat the take over is communication and letting your colleagues and supervisor know what your expectations are for your role and ensuring that your time is respected so you can come to work to give your 110%. Remember that the tech you are given is not yours to keep, so do not keep personal information or use social media on it and set your limits early to ensure the best work/life balance you can get with your employer.
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