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My manager is asking me to take work laptop home because he says "I might need it anytime". Now I signed up for typical 8 hours 5 days a week developer job and I like to keep work things at workplace while my team members take it home. As I am a fresher I am not sure what the industry norm is about this but If I say no I might come up as someone is not very co-operative and not well integrated with the team in the eyes of my manager at the same time I don't want to work at non-working hours. How should I say no to this without risking the job?

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    Did your manager say anything about what you're expected to do at home and what the compensation for working from home is? Also, did you make it clear during the hiring process that you want a 9-5 job and aren't willing to work emergencies? – Erik Apr 1 '17 at 8:56
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    @Erik In the contract I am only expected to work and compensated for the hours discussed. During interview I made very clear that I'll be working for the agreed hours as I have other commitments. – cube Apr 1 '17 at 8:58
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    Maybe on some days, your boss just wants everybody to remote in, without coming to the office during work hours. ;) – Stephan Branczyk Apr 1 '17 at 10:03
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    An employer asked me to do the same at the end of the first Friday at the job (hinting that I might use it during the weekend). I told him I had a laptop at home and locked the work laptop away in my locker, which he saw. He got the message and never mentioned it again. – camden_kid Apr 3 '17 at 8:40
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How should I say no to this without risking the job?

Just refuse, but be prepared for repercussions, because refusing to do something and citing contracts and working hours is great in theory, but in practice it's not a good look although I would think that it's not something you'd get sacked over.

One possible strategy is you don't want to be responsible for the equipment at your place, because it's not safe at your domicile. That worked for me as a student living with several others in an apartment in a bad area.

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    +1 for "you don't want to be responsible for the equipment." If this is just an excuse, however, OP may want to take the laptop home to conform with the request, but not turn it on, and postpone discussion about out-of-hours work to when the question is raised. – Captain Emacs Apr 1 '17 at 9:39
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You have to ask your boss.

Some reasons why your boss might want you to take the laptop home:

  • On bad weather days you can work from home.
  • On a business trip you don't have to bring your personal laptop.
  • They might allow you to work from home one day a week.
  • On a day when you aren't feeling well you can do a little work from home.
  • One a day when you have to be home while the heater is being repaired you can still do some work.
  • They want you to be able to work 7 days a week.

All are reasons. There are probably even more. The only way to know which ones apply is to ask.

Letting you take a laptop home means that on a snow day you can't say I would have done work, but I don't have X on my computer, or I had no way of checking email, or I couldn't VPN. But with the laptop you get paid if you work, instead of having to take a day of vacation.

After you ask, and they tell you why, you can still decide you don't want to have it at home. In some cases you can keep it at work, and only take it home when you need to. Of course that doesn't help you if the reason you are home is due to an emergency.

You also have to decide if the reason for not wanting to take it home (potential loss of work life balance) is big enough to put up a fight now, before you even take the laptop home.

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    This - ask! He might need to you work from home in an emergency, but then you get 2X pay for shift differential and get to comp out the regular work hours. Just say "what's the company policy about required work from home? I'm not familiar with it." Or ask HR, or read the employee manual that everyone gets but no one reads. – PoloHoleSet Apr 3 '17 at 21:39
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he says "I might need it anytime". Now I signed up for typical 8 hours 5 days a week developer job

I don't agree that 8 hours x 5 days is "typical" for a developer's job. My experience says otherwise.

But more important is that it is possible that you and your boss have different opinions regarding the job requirements. The only way to know is to ask.

You should get to the bottom of this right away. During your next one-on-one meeting with your boss, you should talk about job expectations, including the expectation to be available off-hours when needed.

How should I say no to this without risking the job?

Don't say "No". Instead ask about the expectations.

It's possible that you are being asked to take the laptop with you in case you choose to work from home during normal work hours (due to commuting problems, etc). My company asks people to take their laptop home in case the office datacenter is down (due to power outage, or system failure, etc). Workers can connect to the VPN of a remote office and still get work done.

If you expect to work only 8x5=40 hours, and the company expects something different, then this may not be the right job for you. It would have been better to clarify that during the interview process so that you could have made a good decision, it's still important to know that as soon as possible now.

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    From my experience 40 hour work weeks are typical. It probably varies culture to culture. Most of mine have been 40 plus emergency deadlines which weren't often. – Ronnie W Apr 2 '17 at 15:06
  • My work weeks have varied from 40h to as much as 70+h when required (Thankfully those kinds of weeks are the rare exception). I'd rather put in those extra hours at home after dinner and work from 8pm-midnight when the kids are in bed than work at the office til 9pm. – DLS3141 Apr 3 '17 at 20:47
  • In my country 35-40h work weeks are typical. Overtime is very untypical. Unpaid overtime is flat out illegal end of. – Magisch Apr 4 '17 at 10:48
  • @JoeStrazzere I know. I was just describing how it works here across the pond in europe. – Magisch Apr 4 '17 at 13:03
  • @JoeStrazzere Salary, how I love and despise it. ;-) Constant pay, but with the lack of OT it can be tiring. Mostly, here at my job, it's the "on call" weekends that are killer, when they expect that laptop to go everywhere with you so that you can respond within 10 minutes to any issue...meaning I'm leashed to WiFi. ;-) – SliderBlackrose Apr 5 '17 at 15:13
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It could very well be the norm for your industry.

Instead of saying no outright, I would take the laptop home and see what happens. It could be that you never have to use it. It could be that you use it once a year in an extraordinary situation.

Asking you to take the laptop home is not the same as asking you to work 10 hours at home each week outside of your normal working hours. I would wait for that demand to be made before saying no.

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It seems like this issue is part of a bigger problem with you understanding what is expected.

Talk to the team. Find out how much time they're spending at home on work. Is the work they're doing expected or are they just clearing out boring things like email, so they can focus on other things at work or maybe they just surf the internet.

Determine how much time at home and/or over 40 hours are you willing to do. My experience is it is a pipe-dream to think you will never go over 40 if you're on salary. It's going to happen. Prepare to deal with it.

Finally, talk to your boss and try to get an understanding of why you expect to only work 40 hrs/week and never from home. This is important with every job you take in the future. You need to ask the right questions from multiple sources during the interview process to learn what is going to be expected.

Once you fully understand the expectations, you can determine how to handle them if you don't want to do them. Keep this in mind if you decide to start looking for another job. You may find over 40 hours is more common than you think in your industry.

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This could be part of the business continuity strategy. Some workplaces have a requirement to take the laptop home every night, but not to use regularly. If the main location was uninhabitable (say a A/C failure in Tucson), you could still connect and work without having to come into the closed office.

I require my critical personnel to be issued laptops that they either take home each night or leave at home. We occasionally test connectivity from home to our production data centers to make sure we can perform failover tasks.

  • Welcome to the Workplace -- this is a great observation but does not appear to actually answer the question. Can you include more detail to address the main question ("How should I say no to this without risking the job")? – mcknz Jul 24 '18 at 21:51

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