In these days of personal gadgetry and social media mania, it's become infinitely more difficult moving from old employment to new. We talk to high-tech job changers, lawyers and HR pros to learn how workers should best manage the process of separating the personal from the professional.
The high tech kill switch
Many employers are already protecting themselves, and using technology where possible to help. Companies can track and even block what files employees forward, print or copy, Segal and others say, to ensure that workers aren't making off with trade secrets, client lists and the like.
On the hardware side, companies can even disable devices remotely.
"Most companies that I know of that support smartphone use have enabled it with a feature that allows them to erase all data - 'spike the phone' - at their discretion, usually at termination," says Sean Ebner, regional vice-president for Technisource, the IT services division for SFN Group. "This means that the employee would lose pictures, contacts, emails, files, and so forth."
Some workers might find that draconian, but legal contracts like non-compete and non-solicitation agreements give companies the right to take such actions to protect their assets and interests, according to Segal and other experts.
That said, employers do recognise that the lines between personal and professional are blurred when gadgets are involved, and, as a result, many are trying to accommodate employees' needs when possible, Ebner says.
Allowing a departing worker to remove files from a company device, forward emails to a personal address or keep a mobile phone number all depend on the way in which a person is separating from the organisation. "If the firm feels threatened, very little flexibility is given. If the associate is leaving on great terms, flexibility is often the rule of the day," Ebner observes.
Here's your hat...
Norman Hollander, an IT worker in the US, had a leave-taking that fell somewhere between those two extremes.
Hollander had worked for six years as a technology architect for CA Technologies, an IT management software company, when he learned he would have to relocate - a move he didn't want to make.
When he resigned, CA cut off his email - a typical practice in corporate America these days - without allowing him to create a response that would direct people to a new account. His work laptop went right back to the company, too. Luckily, he had kept personal copies of contact data and other files backed up, and in addition, the company allowed him to remove other personal information from the machine. His BlackBerry was his own, so he didn't need to relinquish the smartphone.
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