Monday, July 28, 2008

BlackBerry Conundrum

As I previously stated, I had a BlackBerry temporarily for work which prompted me to buy one for personal use when I had a chance. So far, I'm very happy with my decisions. I was happy to turn in the other unit, as I feared it would soon become a leash. I also like the convenience and connectivity afforded my personal BB.

So, I'm not sure why I feel compelled to mix the two, but that's what I've attempted. I asked at work if I could connect my personal BlackBerry to their enterprise server. The way I saw it, this would be a good mix of potentially increased productivity without increased expectations. Plus, by paying for the unit and the service I'm not stepping on any toes with the request. The sort of thing where if nothing changes then nothing is lost, but if I can work more efficiently then I look better and am a better value for the company. It's a win/win situation, right?

Not quite.

The losing starts with the roadblock in my plan. My company's policy does not allow personal devices. It is mostly due to the support problems that causes, and that the engineers at the firm live in an alternate reality where our IT is responsible for any technical problems they, their clients, relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, etc... may encounter. So, I can't have my own phone and hook it into the corporate mail system.

But wait! There's a Plan B. Plan B is for me to cancel service for my new phone and get a BlackBerry from work instead. This would save me $40/month by eliminating the family plan and data service. I would have an unlimited data plan and could link it to my personal email. I would have enough minutes allocated for all my calling needs, and my boss assures me that I can make personal calls within reason, so I wouldn't have to carry multiple phones (which would be a deal breaker for me).

The problem with that idea is it would mean that I'm essentially selling my private usage data to the company. Essentially, they would own a device that I use extensively for personal communications, including phone calls, instant messages, and email. At any point they could fire me with no notice and rifle through the device spying on my personal communications. Without going to such extremes they could still easily track the calls I make, which is something I'm not comfortable with, even if my calling habits are fairly mundane.

Is there a solution? I'm not sure. One solution would be to forget about the whole thing and leave my work email at work when I leave at 5. [Ha ha! More like 7.] There would be no expectation of increased productivity or availability, but I would also miss out on the benefits.

Another solution is to forward my work email to a personal account. This is the one I will try starting tomorrow. There are a few problems with this method. I won't be able to properly reply to the emails unless I log in to the email system or reply from my personal account. There will likely be a longer delay between the time the email is sent and the time I receive it. Also, I'm likely violating some risk management/email retention/privacy policy with every email that forwards, creating a vague possibility of legal ramifications. I'll want to be more proactive to filter the noise, because all of that email will end up in 3 places (work inbox, personal inbox, BB). Hopefully this will give me some of the benefits without introducing the nastier problems. I'm flirting with the boundaries of work/life balance.

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