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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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Take advantage of the situation....

by IS Girl In reply to Accept the reality, and e ...

I am having visions of you showing up and the lawyers house, dismantling the computer, needing to run out for parts, shopping a little for yourself or running some errands, having lunch (which you should definitely expense), getting back to laywers house around 3, tinkering around for an hour and a half, and leaving for home a bit early with the computer still inoperable.

The next day, you will have to stop in the office to see what you missed the day before....so maybe you won't get back to the home computer that day - or maybe you will leave at lunch, take a leisurely drive, stopping for lunch on the way, running an errand or two, then showing up to reassemble the computer.

You leave the computer completely locked down so that the kid can't reinstall the garbage that has caused the problem, so the kid is whining to Dad by the time they arrive home from work.

Now, the laywers have to decide that you aren't required full time to work on the office computers, who has to reimburse your miles and who pays for lunch and parts and if you have to make the computer work the way Jr. wants it to.

In no time at all, you will either learn to look forward to your screw off days of house calls or they will abolish the practice.

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empower yourself

by sweetlil66 In reply to Accept the reality, and e ...

As I remember, the original poster stated that they agreed the "home" work would be done during normal business hours. That means, being paid your regular salary to drive whereever. Most driving jobs won't cover my salary, I can be out with the windows down, radio blasting...cold drink I stopped by for in hand.... I haven't been asked to go to anyone's house for PC repair, but LOVE it when I have to go company shopping. It's a long lunch on them!

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We're all a bunch of monkeys

by Leonard J Rivera Sr. In reply to Network Administrator or ...

Ooo Ahh Ahhh Ooooo! We're all a bunch of monkeys unless of course it's our own business we;re runng, but then we wouldn't have this issue would we. Some of us are Chimps, some silver backs, but all answer to someone and get into political messes like this.

My advise is to not offer resistance but comply with all the pride you put into the rest of your duties. Monkey want a banana? Then don't bite the hand that feeds you.

If their home systems are used for even a minor portion of their work, then technically, it is business related. Handle like any other project. Do an initial analysis of HW and Software and configs (security). Put together a proposal of work to be done (as recommended by you and why). Yes, all of this will take prescious time away from the criticle business functions and you need to let them know this. In the end your proposal should outline the current situation, the work that needs to be done and the "TIME" it will take to do it.

Then you can recommend a 3 hour class they can take to teach them how to maintain their own home systems.

Or you can recommend they hire a help desk tech for remote systems.

Let them choose. If your happy with your job and the ones you work for (you sound like you are and you sound as if you take pride in what you do, like most of us) then why worry if a function is beneath you? Sounds like child's play, a good break for ya. They will love you for it.

Looking for another job is always a choice you can make. I don't see anything wrong with the request. Do what you do best and utilize all your best skills.

You can even go as far as taking Admins rights away, treat their home computers as you do the office machines, especially if you are going to be responsible for them. All of this needs to be in your proposal to them. And don't forget warrenty warnings, if any of these systems are under warrenty it is ill advised to do any work to them.

That's it, back to monkey business for me ***picks nose, flings at on lookers, climbs tree, banana in hand***

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Network Administrator or Personal Task Monkey?

by mtbeaver In reply to Network Administrator or ...

You may want to check your state laws. Where I'm at, we have "at-will" people, everyone with no contract, who can be asked to take out the garbage for the boss at home. Document everything Date - Time - miles - what was done - what was said (cover your own . . .).

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You are expendable anyway

by Too Old For IT In reply to Network Administrator or ...

I spent 10+ years as a paralegal, and as the only male paralegal at most firms, I discovered quite a number of quirks that the average "Larry the Lawyer" has.

1) Lawyers are cheap. Even more so if they make the big money.

2) They pick thier staff like they pick their mistresses.

3) You are expendable if you desire to make more than $10 an hour.

4) (For guys) unless you look damn fine in a mini-skirt, you can be replaced tomorrow.

In the case of a network admin, you realize that your job can be done in Bangalore for 10 rupees an hour, so you should feel grateful they let you fix their home machines.

Only way I work for lawyers is on a "time and materials" project basis under written contract with a very hefty change notice fee involved.

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Stand Your Ground

by ramnet In reply to Network Administrator or ...

I believe that it is everyone's right to a private life outside of working hours.That means only you choose who to let into that space and under what terms and conditions. You are absolutely morally and I suspect legally entitled to stand your ground and say No. However if the firm's senior management insist on bringing their own personal home based PC's into work then it might be difficult to say No. Obviously management have decided that their own home computing needs have either an equal or greater priority than the business and I think you are obliged to remind them that the daily workloads are such that attending to their private needs will require you to re adjust business needs and that may mean some urgent business tasks go on the back burner. Are they going to agree with that and if so put it in writing so you have something to hang your hat on. Also in fixing any private PC ownership of any subsequent problems rests with the business not you personally and you will not be fending calls after hours for anyone .. period.

If they try to fire you for that two things :-

1. They would lose any court case for wrongful dismissal

2. You'd be better off somewhere else.

A better strategy might be to befriend some of the senior managers you can trust and make it clear you are not happy with the proposal , why you feel like that i.e its not personal or being lazy and offer them an alternative. i.e work out what it costs them in your time say $5,000 p.a get them to allocate that budget to you to manage and you go out and find a local support shop nearby that will do this work for you.

Best of Luck .. glad I work for myself .. I do not eny how corporates treat people these days.

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Work for Yourself...

by NOW LEFT TR In reply to Stand Your Ground

yet an IT Department Manager?

Does not add up ramnet@
Windows 2003 Server????

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Caveat redintegror (repairman beware)

by mitchlr In reply to Network Administrator or ...

In an environment where executive arrogance has become the rule rather than the exception, and twisters of wire and turners of screws like ourselves are looked at as replacable parts, one thing that is often overlooked is the liability issue.
Any company ought to have a strict "No Home PCs" policy, as when a technician touches a PC he or she inherits the blame for all the problems the PC has.

The general problem analysis of users relies on the post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) fallacy: This problem occurred after my personal PC monkey touched it, therefore the problem occured BECAUSE of what the monkey did.

I would think this would be especially risky when dealing with people who make their living as professional litigators, whose stock in trade is putting forth arguments that are logically fallacious but emotionally appealing.

When execs at our company ask me if I'll look at PCs, I tell them I'll be happy to -- for a charge of $75 per hour with a two hour minimum and with a signed disclaimer that I am not responsible for any previously existing problems with the PC.

As I was having Thanksgiving dinner with a pilot, he asked me to help him with his computer. After three hours of trying to get his wholly inadequate piece of junk working (and it was working when I was done!) I asked him if it was okay if I asked him to fly me around for three hours sometime on his day off. He answered, "I don't think so!" But I guess he got the point. It's been four years and he hasn't asked me to work on his computer again.

In your case, perhaps you're the only techie around the lawyers -- in larger companies, execs won't have a problem finding someone among their entourage of sycophants and corporate climbers looking for an opportunity to bootlick and curry favor. There is no shortage of character deficited individuals willing to eat several yards of crap for the opportunity to kiss an executive behind -- generally though these are people whose 'soft' skills (office intrigue, back-stabbing, taking credit for others' work, etc.) outweigh their hard skills (like making systems work.) They may wind up coming to you after brown-nose messes things up.

That's my rant for today. Ahh, I feel so much better!

-- Dex

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by jpeaker In reply to Network Administrator or ...

If you make all the partners happy and take care of their home equipment, come raise time will you be rewarded????

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In the same boat

by JaredH In reply to Network Administrator or ...

I am in the same boat for a School District. We have to go to Board members homes and support equipment. The catch for us is that we only support equipment that was purchased by the District. So any home system, broadband or other wise, they are on their own. But, because District equimpment still has to be on their home network, we end up doing a little broadband troubleshooting and training to get their laptops to work in both enviornments.

A real pain, but so far not too bad....yet!

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