There are those of us who are lucky enough to be issued a company laptop that is still technically owned by the company but is used solely by you. While you may be the only one using the laptop, you may actually be wondering whether or not you should also be using it for personal use. After all, you don’t want to bring a company laptop and a personal laptop wherever you go. So, can you use your company laptop for personal use?
Technically speaking, you can use your company laptop for personal use as long as you are the only one using it until you leave the company. However, when it comes to the question of whether or not you should use it for personal use, we believe that you shouldn’t do so for safety and security reasons.
Company laptops may be the same as personal laptops when it comes to all of the different features they come with. But the very fact that this laptop is not yours is what makes it different from a personal laptop. That’s why it is never recommended that you do not use your company laptop for personal use because of how it isn’t as safe and as secured as your personal laptop.
Can you use your company laptop for personal use?
Some of us have become lucky enough to have a company laptop issued to them as the company might actually be a really good one or if your job cannot be performed without the use of a laptop that you can carry around and use whenever you need one. For some people, this dispenses the need to buy an actual laptop so that they can perform their job well as their company is now providing them with the tool they need to work.
In most cases, those who have company laptops actually no longer use their own personal laptops or might not even have personal laptops and would rather just buy their own desktop computers at home. After all, it becomes a bit redundant to carry around two gadgets whenever you are always on the go. In fact, it could be heavy and difficult for you to bring two laptops all the time.
But, then again, because you will be carrying your company laptop with you more so than you would with any other laptop or computer, you might be wondering if you could actually use your laptop for personal use. Of course, because the laptop was issued to you, you are the only one using it even if you don’t own it and it technically is still the property of the company you are working for. So, can you actually use a company laptop for personal use?
Technically, yes, there is no one out there to stop you from using your laptop for personal use. That’s because it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to leave out some of the personal stuff you use when you are using your company laptop such as checking social media, watching movies, or even playing games. You can even use your company laptop to work on some things that may not be related to your job but can still be beneficial to your own personal growth.
So, as long as you are the only one using your company laptop, there is no reason to believe why you can’t use it for personal use. It’s going to be incredibly inefficient on the part of the company to have “eyes” on you while you are using the laptop for personal use while you are not at work. Of course, when you’re at work, you should only be using the laptop for company purposes and not for anything else. Still, no one’s going to keep tabs on you if you are actually using the laptop to watch movies while you are at home or when you are in your hotel room during a business trip.
Then again, there are some companies that actually require their employees to turn over their laptops for routine checks by the IT department. Using your laptop for personal use might not be the best idea when there are routine checks made on it. But, on the other hand, as long as you are not saving anything on the company laptop or installed stuff that is not related to your job, you should be able to do just fine with the casual personal things that most people do with their laptops such as streaming videos or opening their social media accounts.
So, while you can technically use your company laptop for personal use, we recommend that you do not use it for personal use. Yes, doing simple things such as social media checkups, opening your personal email, or checking on your bank accounts or other finances might not sound harmful but we will talk about why all these things lead to the conclusion that using your company laptop for personal use can be dangerous to your safety and security.
Why shouldn’t you use your company laptop for personal use?
Going back, we did say that you can technically use your company laptop for personal use. However, just because you can use it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. There is a fine line here between whether or not you can use it and whether or not you should use it.
But why shouldn’t you be using your company laptop for personal use? Well, plainly speaking, it simply just is a bad idea for you to do so. And we are going to talk more about the reasons why you shouldn’t be using your company laptop for personal use.
Safety and security risk
The main reason why you shouldn’t be using a company laptop for personal use is that doing so is a major safety and security risk on your part. That’s because most company computers were not specifically set up to have the same kind of security features that personal laptop have precisely because it would cost extra dollars for the company to set up a good VPN or the best privacy and security apps that will keep the user safe and secured while using the laptop.
That said, saving sensitive information such as your personal details or even your passwords and bank accounts can lead to data and privacy leaks that can leave you with nothing. There might be people on the internet waiting to pounce on a simple mistake that you did with a company laptop so that they can commit identity theft or even use your passwords against you.
And the worst part here is that you shouldn’t be installing software that can help improve your safety and security because that would cost money on your part. After all, you don’t want to spend dollars on something that you don’t even own.
As mentioned, some companies may require their employees to hand over their issued laptops to the IT department for routine checkups. These checkups are not always there to keep the employees on a tight string but to make sure that the laptops are working fine and that they don’t need any repairs.
That said, if you use your company laptop for personal use, the IT guys might be able to see some of your personal files and data. They may even see things that they shouldn’t even see such as personal photos or the things you do while you are using the laptop for personal use. Of course, using the laptop for personal use can also increase the chances of damaging it or causing issues that the IT guys can easily see.
Your internet traffic may be monitored
When you are in the office, this should be something that is quite common because some workplaces have Wi-Fi networks that will allow their IT people to monitor the employees’ internet traffic. This is put in place not to restrict the employees but to make sure that they are not doing things that they shouldn’t be doing while they are connected to the company’s network.
As such, when you are in the office, it is best to make sure that you are not using the company laptop for personal use because the people who are monitoring the internet traffic can easily see what you are doing with the laptop. It might be safer if you are at home but you still shouldn’t be complacent enough when using the company laptop for personal use.
Your employer could be monitoring you
This might not be very common but there are apps that employers actually install in their company laptops so that they can monitor whatever their employees are doing. Again, this is to make sure that the employees are productive enough such that they are not doing things that are not related to their jobs. So, if you are using your company laptop for personal use, you can get in trouble for doing so if your employer is actually monitoring your activity with the laptop.
What are the things that you shouldn’t be doing on your company laptop?
So, while you can still perform normal and regular personal things using your company laptop, here are the things that you should avoid doing when you are using your company laptop to prevent any issues arising between you and your employee and to minimize any safety and security risks involving your personal information and data:
Don’t store personal files in the laptop’s storage drive
Always use an external drive when you are using your company laptop for simple personal purposes such as downloading personal stuff or when you are watching movies. All of your personal files should be saved in an external drive and not on the company’s laptop to make sure that your employer won’t see that you are using the company laptop for plenty of personal things such as saving photos and watching movies.
Don’t save passwords and personal information
For the sake of your security, do not save passwords and personal information on the company laptop. When you enter passwords and personal information in certain sites and apps, you will be prompted whether or not you want the site or the app to remember the password and information. Always opt against it because you will never know who can use your password and personal information against you over at the other end of the laptop regardless of whether or not you are being monitored.
Don’t make jokes
This might sound weird but trust us when we say that you shouldn’t be joking around while you are using the company’s laptop even if you believe that you are using a site or a messaging app that is private and safe.
For example, when you are emailing a friend or when you are chatting with someone you work with, do not make off-color jokes directed towards the company or the employer or even the job itself because your employer can always use that against you when they are monitoring your activities. Even simple jokes that are unbecoming of the profession can also be used against you.
Do not access public networks
Regardless of whether you are using your own laptop or your company’s laptop, you should use public networks sparingly because of how doing so can lead to major security risks on your part. And if you have to use a public network, make sure that you are not working on sensitive stuff using your company laptop to prevent anything that’s important or confidential from leaking out while you are connected to the said network. You could get fired if some of your company’s information gets leaked out because you used the company laptop while connected to an unsecured public network.
Do not work on side hustles while you are connected to the office network
Again, certain workplaces have internet connections that are monitored by the IT guys. So, if you actually work on your side hustles during your free time while you are at the office, these IT guys can easily see what you are doing, especially when you are using your company’s laptop. This can lead to issues between you and your employer because no employer wants to see their employees using company property for things that are not beneficial to the company.