Dilemma on ethics

Mon, Feb 22, 2016 2-minute read

Recently, I have been coming across a lot of people who use their work laptop as though it were their personal laptop. Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with that. Companies know and understand fair use of the equipment provided. That’s the keyword here: fair use.

I think an extended definition of fair use is also acceptable. In my opinion, it is fair use as long as you don’t benefit from or misuse the equipment. In that sense, skype video calls to your parents back home, watching your weekend movie on youtube or some crappy pirated website is ok too. By doing these, you largely don’t harm the trust factor in the fair use clause. But Skype interview using work laptop is a strictly unethical. At least, in my view it is. Making job applications from your work laptop is just as unethical also. But most companies do expect and forgive some of these. I don’t even keep a copy of my resume on my work laptop.

While so much is still acceptable in most cases, the new trend seems to be to use the work laptop for researching entrepreneurial aspirations. Accessing personal email over work equipment to talk to potential clients and/or make/read/print documents related to the side project over office equipment, using office laptop to study incubator options and applying to them are all a tad too unethical. Well, most people don’t just quit their jobs to start a company over night. It is understandable that a good portion of your startup materialised while you were still employed and most employers don’t bother troubling you over it. But materialising that phase of your startup using office equipment is plain unacceptable. Especially in a day and age where android tablets and 4G connections are fairly affordable to the section that I generally get to meet.

This trend seems spread in many people I see. Either this is the trend or I just seem to meet all these people. Or my definition of ethics is a little too strict by most standards. Whatever be the reason, all these others have their own shows. I still am running some one else’s show. Perhaps all these fringe details are bogging me down.