In one of my previous jobs, I had the following situation, and I'm not sure what would have been the right way to react.
Once, during a team meeting, I was showing something work related on my laptop (I think, slides for a presentation) to my colleagues, and one of them wanted to search for missing information on some website. He took my laptop without asking for my permission, opened the browser and started typing the address of the website. I panicked, because it was my private laptop, and I had been using it to search for some very personal stuff. I didn't want my colleague to type "a", searching for amazon, and to see a suggestion like "am I pregnant?" instead. So I covered the screen with my palms and said something like: "Please don't, there can be something private!".
He apologized, but of course I felt very embarrassed because I overreacted. Most likely my colleagues thought that I had a collection of porn sites bookmarked there, or something similar to that.
I'm not sure if I actually had something incriminating in my browser's search history, but it just made me feel very uncomfortable. To me, using someone's laptop to google something is as impolite as opening this persons' backpack and rummaging through it. Maybe it's a cultural thing.
The laptop I'm currently using for work belongs to the company, and I wouldn't mind my colleagues using it, since I don't store anything private there. However, I might encounter a situation like this again sometime in the future, so I wonder how I should act.
- Does one have to ask for a colleague's permission if he/she wants to use this colleague's laptop? Does it matter whether it's a personal laptop or a laptop provided by the employer? Does it depend on the country (I live in Germany)?
- What would be a polite way to say that things like that make me feel uncomfortable? Should I even do that in case using a colleague's laptop is perfectly fine?
Update: I did not have a separate laptop for work, and there was no possibility to get it. Since all this happened in the past, I cannot change it now.