Advice when starting a tech job

Having recently started a new job (a not-uncommon occurrence among tech workers), I adopted a new strategy about signing up for the many services needed to do productive work as a designer or developer. I’d advise the same strategy for anyone using a work computer for most or all of your work, such as a laptop you take home regularly (though not necessarily so much if you regularly work from your own personal computer).

Instead of trying to remember what my previous accounts were, and telling them all to the company so they could invite me to the company groups, I created all-new accounts, all using my work email address, even if I already had an account with that service. (Technically I missed one where I’m using an existing personal account, but in that case I wish I had created a new one.) Where they asked for a non-email username, I used the same pattern the company already used internally, where possible. When it comes to mailing addresses, I always put the office address too.

Simple. It makes it clear who “owns” those accounts – the company I work for. When they add me, they always just add me by my work email, they never have to ask what my account is. If I ever leave, they have all the information about those accounts in my inbox (which they probably have access to). They could reset the passwords to log into one of the accounts and review any activity there, or delete one when it’s no longer needed. (For the odd account using two-factor authentication, I’d probably reset the phone number for any of those to my boss’s phone when I left.)

This helps make a clear separation between work and personal, and between current job and past jobs. When I leave this company, I won’t get any notifications about things which are no longer relevant to me (or any of my business), but the company will if they feel like checking the email box I was using. It’s also a reminder that when using my work-owned laptop, it’s for work, and I only ever log into work-related accounts and services on it.

Of course this may not apply so much if you’re a freelancer or contractor, or do all your work on your own computer.

The one exception, the area you must still always use your personal contact information, is HR and payroll. Anything to do with your paycheck, health insurance, retirement accounts, or other benefits, should always go to your personal email and be sent to your home address. If you ever leave the company, you want to be notified about your last paycheck, your insurance status and COBRA continuation, and, hopefully for many years to come, your retirement account, pension, stock options, etc.

But otherwise, keeping work and personal separated is the way to go, in my opinion. Think of all of those accounts, along with the laptop, as belonging to the company, and you’re just given access to use them while you work there.

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