but it works:
VPN client -> wi-fi on work computer -> wi-fi on new phone -> 3G connection on phone -> VPN server at work
so if i should find myself in need of rebooting a machine at work, and no immediate wi-fi connection available, at least i can still get in there.
(sadly, a direct tether of the laptop to my phone is out of the question. way to go, security profile administrator.)