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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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Within reason

by Chuckyg In reply to One Small Problem

It is assume to be within reason. An employee is not expected to perform unreasonable tasks or tasks that are immoral. Driving to a managers home may seems reasonable, it is the liability aspect that may back fire on the employer. If the worker somehow shorts out the power supply and the house burns down, do you think the company is free from resonsibilities? If he throws out his back while moving a computer (I seen this happen in my company), do you think the company wants a OSHA incident for a work related injury? Technically he is on company's time and doing company's work, even if it is a non-company owned computer at midnight on christmas eve. What the partners want may not be in the best interest for the firm.

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Very well said

by mrpjb In reply to Liability wavier

You bring up several very important aspects. Well done!

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You did not mention...

by EMJ In reply to Network Administrator or ...

how long you have been with the company, or if there are any other members of the IT department. Do you have a manager to go to bat for you, or are YOU it? I don't see how, if you are salaried, that immediately qualifies you to go to someone's home to work on their personal computer. I too have worked in a law firm, but luckily, I had an excellent boss who went to bat for me if anything came up that was unacceptable to me.

The issue of personal computers did come up once...it's an interesting story... This one attorney had a very irritating, immature, and yes, crazy daughter (she was one of those teens with a dark cloud over her head, typical spoiled brat in my eyes)...well, in order to make her happy, this attorney wanted my boss to set up one of our old computers for her. My boss, being the saint that he was, agreed, he put AOL on it, and a few games. Well, this daughter was impatient, among other things, and she barged into the MIS office, and almost barged into my bosses' office while he was in the middle of a meeting (I was having none of her and stopped her dead in her tracks). I know that we gave her the computer, but that did not resolve her issues, as she returned to the office one day, locked herself in another attorney's office, disconnected his computer, and threatened to throw it out the window. This was (finally?!) the last straw, and she was never allowed to set foot in the office again. I also had an attorney, who was very high up on the food chain, ask me for assistance in opening an attachment, that turned out to be a pornographic cartoon. I was PISSED because that is NOT what I was there to do, and I made a complaint. Nothing happened to me, and nothing seemed to have happened to this attorney. There was another attorney there who had gay porn on his computer, I think I mentioned that to my boss. This was all before sexual harrassment and porn on company computers became in vogue as office issues. I will tell you this, I don't miss working as an IT professional in a law firm AT ALL. You are not respected for your knowledge, and are basically seen as part of the support staff who is there to do WHATEVER the attorneys want you to do. What is so ironic is that my boss left, my co-worker left, I left, all in a span of about 6 months and the law firm had to hire a brand new staff that had no history or knowledge of the firm what so ever. Needless to say, this firm is no longer in existence.

I wish you all the best.

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Here is my plan.

by haileyan In reply to Network Administrator or ...

Well I went on my first outing making sure to submit expense report for the milage. It was not to horrible as the partners wife was pretty hot. In an effort to establish some boundaries I did mention to his wife that I am available only 8-5 on business days to answer any questions she may have by email.

Once I returned I spoke with my superior about auto insurance. I told her that I wanted to make sure that I am covered by the firm if I get in an accident on my way to or from a partners home. I stressed the fact that my insurance does not cover me using my vehicle for business purposes. They are postponing any future outings until they check on this. My guess is they wont want to spend the money if I am only doing this 2-3 times a month. I am trying to make them realize that me doing this type of service will cost them more $$ instead of thinking I am their salaried slave.

Should they decide to get me insurance I may have to take a hike.

Thank you all for your suggestions.

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Insurance isn't a gatekeeper for this

by psyop1 In reply to Here is my plan.

Your employer's insurance will most likely cover you, so don't be surprised if they come back and say they aren't required to provide additional coverage for your automobile. *Your* insurance may not cover your vehicle, but theirs most likely will.

I agree with EMJ's comments about management: where is the manager who should be running interference for you? If there isn't one, it's time to sit down and negotiate your way out of this, because your staff, or if the staff is just you, doesn't have enough hours in the day to solve problems from every vendor of hardware and software that walks in the door from someone's house.

Plus salaried or law firm makes no difference: the lawyers own the firm, not you. And don't fall into the "other duties as assigned" trap either. I've worked for a law firm and, as most will say, it was a terrible experience, but not one that can't be managed through clear and articulated policies and a steadfast position on those policies.

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No doubt

by haileyan In reply to Insurance isn't a gatekee ...

It is merely a start.

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Contract of Employment

by Alpha2004 In reply to Network Administrator or ...

When you where employed by the firm you should have been given a contract of employment which set out your duties. If this did not include fixing the partners home computers then the answer is obviously that they are seeking to change this and favourable terms, to you, can be negotiated.

The snag is that the partners may do some of their work from home, in which case the home computers could be considered part of the work environment.

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Employment Contract

by oz_ollie In reply to Contract of Employment

I agree - look at your employment contract/statement of duties. If it is not listed you are to support computers off site, personal home computers then you are able to open negotiations - go at these hard. Look at this as additional work and that you will need a company car, hours are during business hours only, negotiate priorities of work (onsite computers before off site, etc), state that any illegal software or data (includes porn, video, music, etc) will be immediately reported to police and hardware will be removed and delivered to authorities, ask for hardware and software to create base images for each home system and that this is the state they will be restored to (data on these systems is their responsibility) and look at a sizeable increase in salary - you are now supporting a multitude of non-standard systems.

When this information is put to them you will find that you don't have to look after the home systems.

Good luck - but I'd be starting to look for a new job at the same time.

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Oh for goodness sake...

by garyq In reply to Employment Contract

Do you enjoy your job?

I work in 4 schools and have to support everything from a Compaq SAN array to a 14 year old monitor. Everything that comes across my desk is non-standard.

I am paid a contract rate that I am happy with, my work environment and hours are flexible, and I get along well with my colleagues and the staff I support.

If someone wants me to come out to their place to solve a tricky computer problem, I do so. If the School Principal (Managing Partner) agrees that the task is related to my employment, then I bill my time to the school. If it is purely personal, I let the person know my hourly rate and they pay me. Its simple.

I am certainly not going to report porn to the Police or confiscate equipment because someone is running Kazaa on it. I'll solve the problem to the best of my ability, collect my pay cheque and pay my mortgage. And I'll smile while I'm doing it.

If supporting PCs offsite is haileyan's biggest issue at work, I think s/he is doing pretty well. You are there to provide a professional service. Provide it. Ask the partners to prioritise your tasks - if they value the running of Half Life on their home PCs more than they value the function of their mail server, who are you to argue? They are paying your wage.

Enjoy your work - take the salary, and do what you can to accomodate people. You'll stress less.


GaryQ

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No win

by Jcritch In reply to Contract of Employment

Ouch, I do not know what state you live in, but document every conversation you have with them about this subject, date time who you spoke to and who was present. In Indiana, we have a employment at will state, which means you can be terminated at will also.

Take the high ground and have them bring the machines into the office, as a female you can also plead being uncomfortable going to someone home. Tough situation. Keep in mind if they do dictate that you must go to their homes, as they consider that a extension of their office, you are then covered by workers compensation if you are injured, plus you should submit any mileage forms. You must receive this information in writing.

Lawyers rely heavily on the written word, be firm in requesting that if you must travel to their homes, this mandate must be in writing.

Good luck, and get that resume ready to go if this begins to become too much a burden.

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