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Network Administrator or Personal Task Monkey?

By haileyan ·
I am a network administrator for a large law firm. I am salaried. I have worked long and hard to get to a high level of performance and knowledge. I create technology plans, create technology budgets, plan and supervise projects, in addition to all those other thing we do as Administrators. It has not been uncommon for me to work over 48 hours straight with no sleep in order to resolve problems with our business systems (not that that happens alot!) I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep this business runnint smoothly.

Recently, a partner in the firm asked if I would come to his home and fix his home computer(s). I said I do not do work like that anymore and that I would be happy to recommend someone. I also said that if he brings his CPU into the office I would be happy to take a look at it during slow points.

Apparently he went to management committee where the partners decided that they would all benefit from my services at their homes. I am told that it is their right to have me do this because I am salaried.

Well that makes me feel like a monkey. I do not like the idea of being responsible for peoples home computers. I can picture it now... Angry wives and kids of partners calling me after 5 and on the weekends because the wife can't print an email or the kids can't play their favorite game. Horrifying! The only good news is that I convinced them that I would only do this during business hours. But eventually the calls will come because they will begin to view me as being responsible for their home systems.

In the office I have a controlled environment with all sorts of security, standardized systems and policies to keep systems stable. Home computers have no such controls. Every new home is a different system all together.

Has anyone else experienced this kind of problem? How did you deal with it? Is it legal o have me do personal tasks as a salaried employee?

These people can more than afford to have someone fix their computers.

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Fine lines

by JamesRL In reply to Network Administrator or ...

At my last job, as manager of desktop services, I had an absolute rule, no home computers no matter what. We still had issues with senior managers using laptops at home, and lending them to kids who filled them with junk which caused many problems - standard solution to that is to backup the users data and reimage the machine.

A law firm is a little different - its the owners of the firm who decide the rules. Their argument is going to be that they do amount of work at home.

It might be fruitless to fight this on legal grounds - they will get rid of you if you do.

The best you can do is set limits - you only support the OS and business applications - you don't support Kazaa or any funky stuff, and if thats what causes the problem, it will be deleted from the box.

I will admit despite the fact I am a manager I fixed a VPs home computer recently, it was a former desktop from the company. It was loaded with spyware, but I did it at my own pace in my spare time - he understood why. I kept the machine for two days. I was very thorough. Very thorough. But my VP is pretty flexible and understanding. Your mileage may vary.

James

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What a nighmare you are in

by JimHM In reply to Fine lines

I like trying to set rules - but bottomline is they are going to say - we pay you to do what we want.. Period. If its Quake to bad fix it ...

This guy is going to be used and abused by these partners like a cheap hooker -

Time for them to run - screaming and look for a new position - somewhere fast .. 99% of lawyers are pond scum - the other 1% are retired..

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Go Ahead

by Roger99a In reply to What a nighmare you are i ...

Go ahead and do it, but just during business hours. Non-critical systems don't get after hours support. Spend LOTS of time doing it. The first time a senior partner calls you because he can't get an important document that he needs right away to print and you tell him it will be a couple of hours before you can get there because you're trying to get Timmy's Tonka Trucks game to run the policy will change. If they won't pay you then you have to make it cost them in other ways.

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task monkey's can rule

by NetropolisII In reply to Go Ahead

Having been in a similar position with having to respond to requests for home computer assistance, one thing these legal big-wigs are overlooking is their PC configurations. I requested that they all submit their hardware stats to me, to include installed software. One ******* even had a P90 PC. After receiving this info, I then came up with a cost analysis for their home computers and it was not pretty. Being the greedy mongrels that they were, they decided to nix the home pc support due to costs. But you're right, it will cost them in other ways that they cannot envision at the current moment. So go ahead and do the home support, even if it takes you off site to their homes.

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I agree...the policy will change if you play it right....

by IS Girl In reply to Go Ahead

Since you've already tried logic and they've overrulled it, you have to make your point another way.

Definitely take your time doing these house calls....get "lost" on your way (and be sure to turn in the mileage), be sure to mention that you were fixing the kids game or cleaning viruses that the kids downloaded or getting paperjams out of their printer again.

Extended time out of the office during peak hours will defiitely make your point. If the company computers are negelected because your are installing a wireless network at one of the partners house, the policy will definitely change.

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Give 'em EXACTLY what they ask for

by d50041 In reply to Go Ahead

One of management's biggest problems is getting exactly what they ask for. Doing this during business hours and be very good about documenting how long things take and the impact of uncontrolled systems, as well as travel time and your being out of the office, will either result in them adding staff to do this or bring you back to the office.

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Is there that many job's out their ?

by mstoumba In reply to Give 'em EXACTLY what the ...

WOW
What a bunch of winers. I can't tell you how many really good I.S. people I know that are out of work and have been for along time. If your boss trust's you to run his business and take care of the computers for him outside of the office, count it as a blessing and do it. He know's that if his employes have a working computer at home they might do a little something at home as well as the office. That gives the boss what he needs and you get a couple of hours out of the office. Their are a bunch of people out of work that would gladly do your job if its to much of a burden for you.

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by haileyan In reply to Is there that many job's ...

There are plenty of IT jobs out there. I think you are missing the point.

I do find it more than a little bit degrading that all of the sudden I am treated like a "personal task monkey." Yjere was a time when I did not mind doing work on the side. I enjoyed making an extra few hundred dollars over the weekend. At the time I needed the money and it was at my discretion.

Had I known this would be expected of me I would not have taken the job. However, I was liberty to do so as I was not out of work. I simply made a move from one firm to another. Had I been out of work for an extended period of time and were I just thankful to have any job, I would likely not complain one bit.

Don't sell yourself short. I aspire to become better and better at what I do. I want to aquire new skills and make a better life for myself. I cannot do that working on people home computers like an entry level PC Tech. That is how I started and I have no desire to go back.

One thing I know for certain is that you never get respect from attorneys for backing down. So I will continue to fight for right. Eventually some major problem will pop up while I am an hour away from the office and they will never let me go again.

I may look for other work and at that time you are welcome to apply for my position. But no sooner.

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by mshort77 In reply to

When spending time looking for a new job, make sure you reflect upon the English you use. Judging by the level shown here I'm mightily surprised you're employed at all.

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It's the principle of the matter

by j2will In reply to

You're situation is much like a rocket scientist being forced to tutor grade schoolers in math. the operable word here is "forced." It's one thing to be asked -- shows they respect you and esteem you as a person -- than to be told, which reduces you to chattel, unappreciated scum. But, we are dealing with lawyers who are an "elite" group in their own minds.

You have my sympathies.

As far a legalities go, lawyers are the worst to stretch the fine points of the law. You might try your state's employment commission or its equivalent to determine if it is legal or not and what you may or may not be able to do about it.

There are many good suggestions here. I especially like the ones on cost analysis, waiting until a major problems occurs, and charging mileage.

I think I would do all of them. In addition, I would enforce corporate IT policies on the home computers. I don't know anyone who doesn't have a bootleg copy of something on their computer and games are a usual no-no on corporate machines.

If they scream about the time it takes to fix problems, you might think of using a basic ghost image of a corporate machine and improve your efficiency by using it for all problems on their home machines.

When the time comes they start calling you at home and expect you to come fix their systems, you can apply any corporate HR policy concerning comp time. It there is none, you might fill out a billing for the extra hours (at overtime and holiday rates) and request the IT department be reimbursed for your time. You might even consider doing that for the regular hours as well.

Before starting all these maneuvers, I would make sure I had a more agreeable job lined up. It's been my experience that when you get into a situation like this, you are usually on the losing end of the stick no matter the legalities involved.

Personally, after taking a closer look of your problem, I would find another job as soon as I could. If they think so little of you to violate your autonomy in this manner, they think little of you at all. This is not be a good place to work. For me, they would have taken all the enjoyment out of coming to work and being part of the team. Even if this is resolved, I would be constantly wondering what other forms of personal disrespect would be coming down.

May God give you strenght and guide you in your decision.

Regards,

Jim

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