Don't use work laptops for personal stuff

If it isn't obvious, there are grave dangers lying in wait if you use your work-assigned laptop for personal use. The Verge's Monica Chin explains.

The most important thing to remember is that if you're using a work laptop, you should assume IT can see what you're doing. Companies have all kinds of tools available to monitor their employees' devices — keyloggers, biometric tracking, geolocation, software that tracks web browsing and social media behavior. Over half use some sort of monitoring technique, and their usage has become more popular throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, of course, your company can see what you're doing in company-run programs like Slack and G-Suite Enterprise. Your novel you've been writing at night? Your Slack messages complaining to your co-workers about your boss? IT can see all of that. Even if you have separate personal accounts for these services, it's still more likely that you'll mix them up if you're logged into both on the same computer.

Even beyond things you might think are obvious (such as employer spyware) there are subtle dangers. That novel Chin mentioned? Your contract might assign copyright in any work you do on the computer to your employer, even out of hours, and you can bet your advance they'll suddenly be interested in that novel if you ever sell it.

A couple of things I'll add:

• Even using a personal laptop for work is often a bad idea, as apps and services your employer requires you to install will install the workplace spyware, and the legal agreements they require you to sign may mean that the machine is no longer quite yours to do with as you please.

• Don't use any personal online services from work computers either, not email, not social media, none of it. I would not even access them with a personal device over company WiFi.