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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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Can we call you Slave !

by SkipperUSN In reply to Network Administrator or ...

Lets see these junky lawyers partners that each make more money than you will see if 10 years of work (my cousins husbands a partner - make 7 figures) ...

And they can't afford to call someone else - I would be out looking for a job - so fast that their heads would spin... Let them suck your butt as you walk out the door.... With your talent and skills - you shouldn't have a problem ...

It appears they have no loyality to you - only to themselves - you need the same attitute... Tell them to take a hike - and find a good employement lawyer as well ...

As they say Lawyers are lower than Whale S.H.I.T. at the bottom of the ocean - What do you have when you got 50 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean - A good Start... Dirt Bags

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Be polite, open negotiations under no uncertain terms

by dmurawsky In reply to Network Administrator or ...

I used to work for a financial systems integrator and they had an interesting way of preventing this problem. They had the company purchase several machines to be set up as "work at home" systems. These systems were supported by the central support department and let the users have access to all work related information from home through a secure VPN. You support those systems, and those systems only. Policies can be set up to prevent local storage of information. That way when something goes bust because of Jr. all you need do is re-image the thing and all is good.. Other non-work related systems are out of your jurisdiction, period. They most likely do not pay you to support home machines, whether you are salaried or not.
If the management committee says that they can require you to do this ask them, politely, where in your contract it says you have to support non-work-related machines. If they find a clause in the contract that says that specifically (and I mean that in the legalese sense of the word), well you signed it, good luck. Otherwise put forth the idea of a centrally controlled system like the one outlined above.
If they still refuse to see things from your point of view and work to an alternative solution, consult a lawyer. If he says you?re in the clear, tell your employers that you flat out refuse. If they fire you, it sounds like you?ll be able to find a better job. If they don?t, you still may want to start looking as it sounds like they have little regard for you as a human being.
Throughout this process, though, be polite and respectful, even if they don?t deserve it. Many problems can be avoided in this manner. It sounds like you tried it that way with the first guy and got screwed. Don?t stop being polite just because he was a jerk. Let everyone prove whether they are or aren?t. Confrontation is not a good way to start attempts at negotiation. Hopefully you?ll be able to come up with a nice solution to this dilemma. Let us know how it turns out.

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I don't know about that

by SkipperUSN In reply to Be polite, open negotiati ...

A lawyer once told me - once you show weakness they know you will back down ... at some point.

In an employement law class - taugh by one of these lawyer - he said go at them hard the first time out of the box... because thats what they are going to do -

If you back down they got you - if you fight back they know its going to cost them money ... then the figures come into play - where is the break even point - when is it cheaper to pay - than to fight.

So he always said - if you go at them hard from the on set - you can always back away from that position and you look like the nice guy... I say go at them with both barrels blazing ...

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good lesson there

by Jinn In reply to I don't know about that

I gotta agree with Skipper on this. And not only does what he say apply to lawyers but just about anyone in any corporate business. I'm forcing myself to break out of the habit of backing down. When I first started working here I did all that stuff. Fixing the directors home pc's, etc. Til' a mate told me that my bosses aren't doing me a favour by paying me. Instead its more I'm doing them a favour by providing them with my expertise.

Things are changing slowly for me here, but it would have been so-ooo much better had I stood firm against that stuff from the start. They still will always try to get me to back down because I did it before.

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be careful

by lstone In reply to Be polite, open negotiati ...

a lot of advice here but I would say if you don't have a contract and the partners of the law firm are saying that it is your job to fix their home computers you may not have a choice short of looking else where. It's not like a large corp or a govt employment where there may be laws to abide by on it. The money to pay you is coming from the partners of the firm and they can decide what they want you to do as long as it is not discrimatory, unlawful act or covered by contact. Don't jump into any of this advice without considering what may happen to your job and weighting what is important to you. Look and think before you leap. Good Luck

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Your attitude will determine the ending

by tconway In reply to be careful

If your skills are in demand in your area and you can easily find a job then you have many choices.

On the positive, I like DamiantheX's idea of this being an opportunity to get out of the office and having a little freedom to get that quick errand done.

If you have a little bit of an evil side then playing these cats against one another would, at the very least, be entertaining. Imagine that you are out at partner A's house fixing his personal computer when something happens at work that Partner B needs fixed right away; so he can file some ultra important legal brief that he sat on for 3 weeks until the last moment (but I digress). Well, gee Mr. B, I would love to help you but... I am at Mr. A holes house and it will be at least an hour before I can get back into the office to fix that?.sorry but you guys made it company policy!

These guys will start fighting with each other faster and harder that Lance Armstrong rides a bike! Just sit back and watch the office politics implode!

Of course that also depends on whether or not you are the only IT resource in the office.

If however, you are looking for this job to build your resume then?your choices are less fun. Smile, do the dew, and keep that resume primed. Burning bridges is rarely recommended. You may need legal help one day and trading computer assistance for some legal advice can be a nice perk down the road.

If you are just plain pissed then consult an employment attorney?preferably out of town. It's a small world after all.

Good Luck!

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Trading services.... Hmmm....

by rigmarol In reply to Your attitude will determ ...

Now here's something; start sueing everybody and start asking these Legal dudes to give YOU some freebees! See how they like it.

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Liability wavier

by Chuckyg In reply to Network Administrator or ...

For my company, if their home system and network was not purchased and setup by the company, it is considered non-standard and best effort. My company does not want to take the resonsibility for repairing damages to their system or network if something goes wrong. Long ago we had to replace a newly made driveway for a manager when the tech's car leaked oil on it. For company's owned computer at home, we tell them that they need to bring it in to office to insure that we have close access to servers, software tools, etc. Have home visit require a liability wavier (if you can, have it require a senior level signature). Will they provide a company phone to recieve these calls? Will they provide a company car? If not, will they provide insurance while you drive to their home? After all, they are asking you to do these as a employee, not as a friend. If they do not provide these, how will you be reimburst for your own insurance and the wear and tear of your car. What level of support do they expect? Issues of software licenses and hardware replacement, who buys? The firm or the partner? Ethical question, what happens if you find questionable stuff on the computer? Will they have a special accounting for this if you do charge accounting? Do you have a job description when you got hired/promoted? If it is not listed, it is beyond the scope of what you initial sign up for. If they do allow calls, keep track of when and the length to use later. Too many and too long can keep you from doing your regular work.
Bottom line: if it is going to cost the firm for this support, they will back away. You are an employee and such work must be business related.


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by birch In reply to Liability wavier

Chuckyg, this reply is very well thought out. As a network admin, I make it a point of not getting involved in home issues. Personally, I'm okay with being fired to avoid that issue, because I know the complications that can ensue.

I believe you should use some of what Chuckyg gives here to help resolve the issue without risking your employment or even your standard of respect within the organization. These execs have probably not considered any of these issues and feel that if they are paying you, then they deserve this. But that is not the case, because they are not fully compensating you for what you are putting in. Like you said, I'm sure they can afford to pay someone proper to come in and fix their computers. And you can even explain to them that they would be benefitting the community by adding money back in to the local economy.

Good Luck.

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One Small Problem

by Super_IT_Mom In reply to Liability wavier

Most every job description now includes the infamous line that states "Other duties as requested." How do you get past that one?

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