Earlier this week I had lunch with a friend who works as contractor to a Federal government agency and he told me an interesting story. Recently, the facility where he works established a new policy where he is no longer allowed to bring his personal laptop into the office. He can keep it in his car or in a locker at the front desk where he works, but he can no longer bring it into his office.
If you’ve never worked for the Federal government, you probably are wondering why someone would want to bring their personal laptop to the office. Well, to check personal email for one thing. At work, for security reasons, he’s not allowed to use his work computer to access his personal email. This particular friends runs a blog in his spare time, so he’d like to be able to manage comments and do a little writing on his lunch break, which most of the time he spend at his desk because of his pressing work load.
I understand the importance of security to the government; it’s a very serious matter. But get this, employees are still allowed to bring in personal cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones and other PDAs into the facility. When you think about it, a smart phone really can do just about everything a lap top can, and in some cases, like taking photos and video, it can do things a lap top can’t. Wouldn’t that be more of a security threat?
My friend seemed think so. But he really made me laugh when he shared what he told his management team about the new policy. “If you won’t allow my lap top in your office, I won’t allow your BlackBerry in my home.”
I know he’s joking, but I think he has a point. Do you find because you carry a smartphone or PDA as part of your job that you bring your work home with you? Or do you use your work computer for personal purposes during the workday? My experience is that the younger you are, the more comfortable you are with blurring your personal life with your work life. Or maybe you’re a cell phone refusenik?
As for me, I don’t think I could do my job without a BlackBerry, yet some times I need to turn it off and step away from the unending flow of email, Google alerts, Factiva alerts, Facebook updates and Tweets.
What about you?