The dos and don’ts of laptop use: Ask Amber

by Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

A recent article that discusses how Generation Y is changing HR practices includes statistics showing that 46 percent of Generation Y young professionals consider their laptop the most important piece of technology in their life. While most young professionals today will find computers an essential part of their day-to-day work routine, there are basic ground rules every young professional should follow when using his or her laptop at work. This week I share some of the top dos and don’ts of laptop use at work.

DO: Be aware of office policies regarding computer use

A substantial amount of the office policies surrounding computers involve Internet use. Take some time to read your HR manual if you were given one—after all that’s why it was given to you. In this manual you will hopefully find Internet policies regarding checking personal email, browsing the web and using social media sites. If you have read through the manual and still don’t have a clear picture of the rules regarding computer use, ask a supervisor or HR manager. Don’t be embarrassed to ask these questions—it is far better than getting in trouble later for something that could have easily been avoided. This would be a good time to ask about other computer rules as well including printing and saving documents.

DON’T: Let your computer become a distraction from work

Even if your workplace allows for the moderate use of your computer for personal use, don’t let distractions get in the way of your work. Do not leave sites like Twitter or Facebook open in the background all day. Leaving computer games or social media accounts open on your computer can be very tempting and a real time suck if you aren’t careful. If you know the temptation is too great, it’s best to avoid these distractions entirely.

DO: Use your computer as a professional development tool

Your computer allows you to access a number of services that lead to professional growth wherever you are. If you have some downtime outside of work (in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, during a layover at the airport, etc.) download or stream a free Webinar and use that time to take away lessons that can be applied at your workplace. If you are at work, use your computer to maintain work-related calendars and checklists. Having all of your appointments and assignments in one place will ensure that you don’t lose them or forget about them (as most software automatically reminds you of upcoming due dates and meetings). As an added bonus, keeping these lists on a computer gives you the freedom to attach documents, share events and materials with coworkers and even communicate with coworkers in real-time no matter where you are (via conference features or chat apps).

Computers have influenced significant changes in the way businesses operate and the rules they create. If you embrace technology and what it offers you in your personal and work life, particularly the versatility and portability afforded by a laptop, you have the potential to propel your career forward. Take advantage of professional development opportunities on the go (even when not required) and find a system that allows you be organized early. Mastering such skills while simultaneously increasing your computer competency are invaluable to your career.

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One Response to The dos and don’ts of laptop use: Ask Amber

  1. Karen H. says:

    Thanks Amber for your thoughts. One thing I’ve observed that folks might want to discuss is use of laptops during meetings. Those of us who are boomers were trained that “participation” or engagement in meetings was considered respectful and important; so we tried to keep eyes on the speaker – whoever it might be – allowing the speaker to make eye contact with the group. It’s very uncomfortable to me when people bring lap-tops to a meeting and look at the screen – often typing away. Are they engaged? It looks like they aren’t; and I’ve seen people doing completely unrelated work even while the “boss” speaks. It feels disrespectful at best. But I hear that for some younger gen folks, they may be plenty engaged, listening, taking notes on the lap-top or listening and doing something related. I hear eye contact isn’t as valued. What are your thoughts?

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