Blurred Boundaries

The update of some internal work policies led to me reading one on Home use of equipment. I was surprised to see that the policy states:

Equipment purchased or leased made available to an individual member of staff for use at home should be used solely in connection with work. There should be no personal use of such equipment.

This policy was written in 2000 and in line for updating. I’m sure management would be very reluctant to enforce it. However it got me thinking about the blurred boundaries between work and play for remote workers and the sticky predicament it could put people in.

A few thoughts:

  • I can hardly swing a cat in the room I use for work, let alone squeeze another PC in it!!
  • Sometimes I log on to do something for home but get sidetracked into doing something for work.
  • Having two PCs set up for home and personal use would be time consuming to maintain – I use Skype for work and to contact my parents-in-law, I’d have to have it set up on both machines
  • I often use my own digital camera and mobile phone for work use, is this OK?
  • I use my own phone for work and often get calls out of hours and on my days off because I use my home number
  • I use many applications for work and home use (e.g. Facebook), should I be doing this? Should I have two user names?
  • What about work out of hours? What about my lunch break – am I allowed to do my online banking then?

I want to maintain work/home boundaries but it is tricky (the issue of when to switch off is something I’ve discussed before). The boundaries are blurred and the rise of ubiquitous computing is only going to make them more so. I am a responsible person who knows where to draw the line (for example if I want an external hard drive to store family photos on I buy it myself, work only pays for stuff I need for work).

I think organisational policies are going to have to be pragmatic and move with the times. No matter how hard we try there are points when…
work = play
and
play = work.

What do people think?

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