19

I got this full time job 2 months ago. It's work from home for now cause of the novel coronavirus. I am a full time employee and not a contractor. I'm from the Philippines.

They didn't provide me a work computer so I've been using my own. Now they want to use time tracking software which will monitor my activity. I don't want to install software on my laptop just for them, but they say they really need to be tracking activity now.

What would you do in this situation?


[Edit] The OP says in comment below :

I dont have a workstation at the office cause ive never even been there since I was employed during corona with their WFH setup

I thought that that is important enough to include in the question.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mister Positive Oct 22 at 16:54
  • When they sent us to work from home, they told us to take our desktops, plus two monitors, and use the company VPN, just like we would do in the office. Can you update your question to clarify whether you had a PC in the office? And, btw, in Phils, just as most of the world, the answer to your question is- you don''t have to install the software, just as they don't have to employ you – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 27 at 13:14
  • @MawgsaysreinstateMonica i started here its already WFH. So didnt have a designated workstation. – itsmaluma Oct 28 at 13:28
64

What would you do in this situation?

Ask the boss to please provide me with a company computer with all of the software necessary to do my work already installed.

If they cannot provide one, I would install the software on an isolated computer or VM and start looking for a new company to work for as it is unreasonable for any company to not provide a computer to full time employees that need one to do their job.

| improve this answer | |
  • 19
    Whilst this is good advice, but I'd be a bit more careful depending on the jurisdiction. OP has a job at the moment, and a harsh return might do more harm than good. – Moo-Juice Oct 21 at 17:47
  • 6
    I wouldn't even install the software on a VM, of course, I would have never used my personal computer either. – Donald Oct 21 at 21:04
  • 2
    @Donald Good for you. I'm not sure what bearing that has on the question though. You aren't the OP, don't work in the philippines and haven't already felt you needed a job to the extent where you would use your own computer to get it. At least provide reasons for your actions. "I wouldn't do that" adds nothing to the answer. – Lio Elbammalf Oct 22 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Fax "Bringing personal tools to work has the unfortunate effect of making them company property" - In what jurisdiction? I'm not familiar with any that actually work like that. More on topic, I also advise against installing the software, even in a VM. The time-tracking software is basically spyware; if your employer has so little trust for you that they want you to self-infect with spyware (on your own hardware, no less!), it's time to at least consider a new job. – aroth Oct 26 at 1:04
  • 1
    @aroth Definitely. I have years of experience and i submit my work all the time. why would they need to spy? I mean, yes sometimes i would do something else but i will always submit my work. Im considering a new job now. – itsmaluma Oct 26 at 5:31
12

A way to solve this is to tell the boss that you are willing to remote into your workstation at work. They can install all the tracking software they want on the workstation, which you will be using via a remote desktop session(Ideally you already have been doing this).

That way your boss has its fix for needing to check on employees, and you keep your computer free of all company software and don't have sensitive documents lingering on your computer.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I dont have a workstation at the office cause ive never even been there since I was employed during corona with their WFH setup – itsmaluma Oct 26 at 5:32
  • Well, they can provide a remote desktop environment on their servers, or provide a workstation you can remote into. The CAL license for a remote desktop environment on the server doesn't cost much, and a desktop to remote into can be bought for 200 roughly, assuming you only need to perform basic office duties and not be making autocad drawings etc.... – Tschallacka Oct 26 at 8:00
  • 1
    "I dont have a workstation at the office cause ive never even been there since I was employed during corona with their WFH setup"- that is a very important detail and you should edit your question to say so. (NVM, I have done it for you) The more information you give on any SE site,t he better we can help you. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 27 at 13:16
6

You can do whatever you like; the company can also do whatever they like. Unless it's stated in the contract that you don't have to use your own personal equipment, or it's in some law in the Philippines (it probably isn't, as I'm unaware of any countries which have such a law, although I'm unfamiliar with Philippine law so perhaps it is; you may want to research this), the company can request that you install software on whatever machine you are using for work. You can decline the request, but the company can fire you for that (even if they can't fire you directly for that, they can make up some excuse to fire you based on that, like "you aren't being productive enough" or whatever).

So really it depends on how much you want this job. The company, if they are a good company, should provide you with tech; there is no guarantee, especially in a third-world country like the Philippines, that every employee has the equipment at home necessary to do their job. If you need to run some kind of CPU-intensive operation, or you need a high speed internet connection, not everyone can do that. Furthermore, it's in the company's best interests to not do that, because if your personal device gets hacked or whatever then you could leak company IP, and it's not reasonable for the company to legally hold you to that standard.

If you want to keep this job, then install the software. Not that it's ethical for them to make you do so, or that you should, but simply put if you don't install it then they'll probably fire you, so it's a choice between using the software or losing your job and you said you don't want to lose your job. However, you should notify, in writing, the company and say that, because you are being forced to use your personal equipment for work, you cannot guarantee the safety or security of any company IP that is on your computer, and make the company agree to that in writing, so they can't hold you legally liable for this later just in case you happen to get a virus or what have you. If they won't agree to this, then I'd say you should just find another job because this company sucks.

The other option, if it's reasonable for you, is to buy a second computer to use for work, and install the software and all your other work stuff on that computer. You should still get them to agree to the terms of you not being liable for the company IP and so on but it's less of an issue if you know your work computer is more isolated from your home life. However, a new computer can be expensive and it may not be financially reasonable for you to do this, in which case, see above.

| improve this answer | |
5

This would be illegal under UK law. If they want you to install monitoring/tracking software on the computer you use for work then they need to provide you with said computer.

However since you presumably want to keep this job you are in a difficult situation. Your concerns are legitimate, anything which gives them access to your personal machine is a violation of your privacy. Have you asked for a laptop to be provided?

You could point out that as other people use the computer there are serious privacy issues for them too. Try to be constructive, suggest ways they can resolve this rather than simply refusing.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I want to keep this job until i get a new job or at least corona is over. I really dont see any other solution than this but for them to just provide a work computer. Or they let me go. Its just that. – itsmaluma Oct 21 at 15:54
1

Are you a contractor? or are you an employee?

If you are a contractor (in the US), the request from the company is not appropriate. You are expected to use your own tools to accomplish the task as dictated by contract.

If not, I really hesitate to allow any corporate data on a personal device, as it can lead to potential liabilities of personal data. For ex, if the company is sued, your personal device may be subject to a legal hold. I'd absolutely insist in being provided a corporate device for use, especially when they're requesting untrusted software be installed on the machine.

If obtaining a corporate machine is not possible, I would suggest technical methods of compartmentalization: for ex, a virtual machine where you do all your work, or a separate partition/hard drive.

| improve this answer | |
  • Not a contractor. A full-time employee. I work in design so not much sensitive data. But yes, i dont know why they wont just provide us our own – itsmaluma Oct 21 at 15:47
  • 2
    @itsmaluma - I already know the reason, it's the same reason any business decision is made, money. Before you install the software, ask for a company computer, you can drag your feet until they provide an answer to that request. – Donald Oct 21 at 21:06
  • @itsmaluma The company has to have some mechanism in place for providing computers for employees. After all, what would they do if the required software isn't compatible with your computer? – bta Oct 22 at 19:59
1

Lots of good answers here i'll give another suggestion. Install a VM on your computer and work day to day in that VM. This gets around any privacy issues as when you want to use your computer out of work just power down the VM. Do all of your work in that VM and give it almost all the resources of your main computer so it's not too slow and has enough power to get you through the day.

In all seriousness though this sounds absurd and any other time I'd be telling you to fight this or look for another job. Given the situation with CoViD-19 there is not much you can really do at the moment.

| improve this answer | |
1

I am working from home like yourself. I do have a dedicated computer at work, but that is not allowed to leave the building while the SSD remains unencrypted.

As such I am using my personal computer, but I have a separate SSD for home and work.

Only the work SSD is encrypted. The company can force me to install any software they like on that drive, such is the agreement.

It's also the only drive with software on it that allows me to connect to the corporate VPN.

I just swap drives over as-and-when needed, keeping a very clean separation between work and private.

One has to be a bit careful though. The plastic guide inside a SATA socket probably wasn't designed for frequent insertions/removals.

Edit

For most jobs I assume a small SSD would suffice, so it shouldn't break the bank. Better still would be to have the employer pay for the SSD. It's also reasonable to ask your employer to pay for software licenses you need. They probably have corporate licenses that covers you and your colleagues anyway.

| improve this answer | |
  • Depending on computer type and ports available, i‘ve run line linux OS‘s from usb sticks or external harddrives and just choosing that as the bootable drive in the bios...perhaps that‘s be a better solution for you and the OP? – morbo Oct 29 at 16:42
0

My employer provides work laptops to employees on request, and it is possible to get a work desktop computer. One can do that though their boss, boss's secretary, or using a centralized request system.

In my case, if hypothetically my employer started using employee tracking software (which it won't), I would try to get a work laptop using one way or another.

If that didn't work, I would buy an additional computer that I would only use for work. Having more than one computer is also useful in case one of them has a technical problem and has to be repaired.

It is generally a good idea to keep your private and work data physically separate. While some investigation or legal issue generally has a very low likelihood, having to turn over your personal info together with work data, or vice versa, could be nasty enough to give this possibility a consideration (remember all the trouble some politicians had because of this).

| improve this answer | |
-1

My wife worked for a well known US multinational and they made everyone buy their own computer despite paying her and everyone else a very low wage. Not sure how widespread that practice is, I sure don't agree with it. My advice to you is install the software and assume it's some sort of spyware and just behave yourself. For all you know this is how badly just about everyone is treated and fighting against it is only going to cause you problems. One day the balance of power will hopefully swing towards employees rather than employers and you won't have to put up with this anymore

| improve this answer | |
  • 5
    This: "fighting against it is only going to cause you problems" doesn't lead to this: "One day the balance of power will hopefully swing towards employees rather than employers" – mcalex Oct 22 at 13:04
  • Your wife should look for a new job (don't quit until she finds one, but look.) Allowing oneself to be abused and hoping things will change on their own generally only leads to one being abused indefinitely. I used to work in a toxic environment, too. Not the same as your wife, but bad in its own way. I told myself it was just "office politics" and this type of BS happens everywhere. When I finally put my foot down and left for greener pastures, I realized how incredibly wrong that line of thinking is. It's not that bad everywhere. Leaving might be hard, but it pays off in spades. – Steve-O Oct 22 at 15:06
  • As Mcalex said, hoping things change without doing anything does not lead to a change in the balance of power, in fact, the complete opposite is true as evidenced by virtually every worker's rights gain made since the industrial revolution. – JS Lavertu Oct 22 at 16:40
  • I live in Australia, we have had about 30 straight years of uninterrupted economic growth, when I started in the workforce it was typical to work a few extra unpaid hours every day, that is no longer the case, where it's typical to end on time. This has come about because changing jobs got a whole lot easier, workers rights these days are more a function of economic conditions rather than actions of individuals – Mikesplace Nov 1 at 11:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .