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Should employees work exclusively on company-owned computers?

Should all company employees and interns be provided with company-owned computers to work on exclusivley? Or is it OK to have them work on a computer that they own? Are there issues with IP for development performed on an employee's or intern's private computer. What is the general way to handle this issue?

15 Replies

Richard Giraud
3
0
Richard Giraud Entrepreneur
Lead Developer at BubbleUP
Dancing around the issue a bit, an employer-provided computer is a good idea. You get to choose what software is on it, whether it uses full-disk encryption, how it's used, etc. Valuable IP will be less likely to leak through infected personal computers and you don't have to worry so much about a leaving employee accidentally having your IP on their computer. It also avoids the question of what to do when an employee's computer breaks down.
Arteni Georgica
0
2
Arteni Georgica Entrepreneur
Lead Web Developer at Post & Place
Hi Charles,
Some of employees don't care, some of them care very much about their toy, and they think they bring a financial benefit to the company using their computers. Actually they add a real benefit to the company if they are allowed to work on a computer that they own, reviewing their work at home to be well prepared next day.But all of this depend of your business model, data security network etc. To answer properly regarding your concern about IP I need to know more about your network architecture and type of product but in most of the cases you should have no problem.
Gabor Nagy
1
0
Gabor Nagy Entrepreneur
Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics
For sensitive IP, company-owned computers are usually be better (depending on the system, the competency level of the IT staff etc.).
For son-sensitive stuff, allowing employees to use their own system may be better.
To get the best of both worlds, you can provide a system that they can take home...

Charles Best
1
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Charles Best Entrepreneur
Experienced Software Engineer, Researcher
Thanks, these are some great answers covering mostly security/convenience caveats involved with this issue. I'm more interested in this issue from the legal standpoint. There are scenarios where this may bring up ip/ownership issues, with university personnel on university equipment, for instance. Of course an attorney is the best source for this, but does anybody have experience on the legal side of this in private companies?
Larry Treystman
0
0
Larry Treystman Entrepreneur
VP Marketing at FasterNotes
If I understand correctly, I believe the original post wanted to have employees purchase their own computers (for financial reasons) and wanted to know if there are potential IP liabilities if the work is done on an individual's computer.

My understanding is that if the employee has any side projects they are working on on that computer it might get legally messy
Yi Lu *LION* 12K+  Bull in the China Shop
0
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Chief Linguist / Partner, *** INVITE Me NOW *** L.I.O.N@outlook.com
This infographic article sheds some light on the BYOD movement, although it's slightly more focused on mobile devices.

http://itsinfographics.com/byod-for-small-business/
Davidson Young
2
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Davidson Young Entrepreneur
Leadership Coach and Development Consultant
The IP issue has already been pointed out by others but I want to share an example of how it can go wrong...I worked with a start-up that had employees use their own laptops. An employee decided to leave the company and we suspected that he was downloading company material and not uploading his work to our drives. Legally we couldn't force him to show us the content of his laptop because it was his own property.

I recommend just making is simple and provide the equipment.
Marcia Allen
1
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Marcia Allen Entrepreneur
Founder and COO BioTech Solutions Enterprise Group, Ltd, LLC
I have had 2 situations of theft of the customer list - one with a company computer and one without. I think it's really important to have the technology in place to safeguard or be able to track whose taking what. With the company owned computer, they did a download from an external device before they wiped everything and we were able to recover forensically what was on the computer (a business plan to start a competing company) and the theft of our customer list. In the non-owned computer they had administrative privilege and did an export of the customer list. We could clearly see the export. How do you totally safeguard either way? You have to give people access. As a former sales rep I have left companies because they didn't give good reports to work from. The best company I ever worked for gave me all the data in every format on paper. If you can't view all the data in various report formats, it's difficult to sell and know where your opportunities are. Those paper reports can always be copied. But people are lazy and stupid or they just feel entitled to own the results of their efforts. In my opinion most important is strong legal contracts that spell out exactly what IP a person brings into the company (most people leave it blank). You can't leave it blank and then years later say you brought in all the relationships. Second is to have technology that records everything that is possible. Third. Only trust your dog, because life is always changing and people change. The only relationship that won't change is how your dog feels about you.
Lorne Rogers, ECM-Master, PMP [LION]
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Seeking new clients - Practical Solutions in Action
I will answer this from the legal perspective in Canada, however, the IP laws between Canada and the US are substantially very similar, so I would venture a bit out on the limb and say it is applicable. This applies whether the device in question is a mobile device, laptop, or desktop.

If an employee is using a device they have legal ownership over for storing or producing work for an organization, that work product legally belongs to the employee. UNLESS, the organization has had the employee sign a waiver stating the contrary AND the organization has made sufficient and reasonable provisions to electronically segregate organizational material and personal material on the device and to remove said material and segregation when the employee leaves the organization.

So, think from the perspective of an iPad or phone or whatever, the organization installs something like MobileIron to create that segregation and then has the employee sign a waiver accepting that they have no rights whatsoever to any organization IP/work product produced or interacted with on that device.
Adam Bell
0
0
Adam Bell Entrepreneur
Connecting China, ASEAN and the world
There's quite a few issues to consider. Legal.. Does the company own emails generated by employees regardless of how it was generated? Same with data files, vs their content. Where are the files stored? Can they be transferred and if so is there a log? Does the password have to be strong? How trustworthy are the employees. Providing the occasional can be beneficial in my experience for emphasis but the key is on legally tuning the policy, employee contract and software to manage your data for those risks which apply.
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