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Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers? 498

Local ID10T writes "Data security vs. productivity. We have all heard the arguments. Most of us use some of our personal equipment for work, but is it a good idea? 'You are at work. Your computer is five years old, runs Windows XP. Your company phone has a tiny screen and doesn't know what the internet is. Idling at home is a snazzy, super-fast laptop, and your own smartphone is barred from accessing work e-mail. There's a reason for that: IT provisioning is an expensive business. Companies can struggle to keep up with the constant rate of technological change. The devices employees have at home and in their pockets are often far more powerful than those provided for them. So what if you let your staff use their own equipment?' Companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Kraft, Citrix, and global law firm SNR Denton seem to think it's a decent idea."
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Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers?

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  • Nah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ksd1337 ( 1029386 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:29PM (#34883214)
    Wouldn't work. The company would always care about its own security.
    • Re:Nah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:52PM (#34883618)

      People who bring their own tools are called contractors, not employees.

      • Obviously you have not worked in the real world...

        Ask any car mechanic on who owns the tools... Sure the mechanic does not buy the big and expensive tools. BUT mechanics are expected to bring their own toolbox.

        To get my mechanical engineering degree I worked as a tool and die maker. And I had to buy my own tools. Was not cheap...

        • Re:Nah (Score:5, Interesting)

          by c++0xFF ( 1758032 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:44PM (#34884470)

          The rationale there is usually to make sure they take care of the tools. My brother owned a house painting business. In that industry the workers buy their own brushes. And it makes sense: when he supplied the brushes, they got trashed within a job or two ... leaving them out, not cleaning them properly, and so on. It was unsustainable. I think it even translated to the tools he did supply (paint sprayers, for example), where they took better care of those tools as well.

          But I'm not sure this translates well to computers. I don't even trust my IT department to do the maintenance on my work computer properly. Having people maintain their own computers would be even worse.

          • Re:Nah (Score:4, Interesting)

            by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @08:25AM (#34888586)

            No it doesn't translate well to computers.

            Do you really want your financial, personal, or medical information on some random idiot's personal machine? A machine (maybe a laptop) that someone's kid uses to download all sorts of crap? What if the machine gets stolen while at the office? Who pays? What about the data? Can you mandate full drive encryption? How do you audit it?

            Think of the legal liability.

            No, no, it's not a good idea when you think past the initial $$$$ and allure of having a non-sucky work machine. Yeah, a good machine costs a few dollars, but compared to the cost of wages and other overhead associated with an employee, it is fricking stupid to saddle the employee with a crap machine that hinders their productivity. If a better machine increases productivity more than 5% then, as a company, you are insane to keep around a 5 year old machine with a tiny monitor.

            We keep most of our clients on a 3 year rotation. The tax laws make it reasonable to do so. We track maintenance costs on systems, and find that as a machine ages, it really does get more expensive to maintain and it costs the company more in lost productivity than it's worth. With rare exceptions, our clients understand this. Tech isn't cheap but not keeping up costs more.

        • Re:Nah (Score:4, Insightful)

          by eviljolly ( 411836 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:44PM (#34885208) Journal

          There's no need to get a condescending tone about it. There is nothing "obvious" about it.

          I have worked corporate IT, small business IT, and at one time ran my own business. There are many jobs where you are expected to have your own tools, but it varies from employer to employer. Most respectable companies supply their employees with everything they need. It's usually the mom n' pops or startup companies that force employees to buy their own stuff. The shop I bring my car to supplies tools for all of their mechanics. This makes it very easy to hire new techs, and makes sure that they have everything they need to do a job properly.

          When people buy their own tools it can affect the quality of work being done. If you buy cheap tools, you will undoubtedly have more problems getting things done than someone with ones that have all the bells and whistles. With computers this is especially true.

          Staying on the topic though, here's an example. Let's say Bob has a new laptop with the latest processor, 6 gigs of RAM, and a solid state drive, while Bill is working on a 4 year old mid-range laptop. If they both work at the same speed, Bob will get more done. It is the best interest of the employer to put up the money for better equipment. So what is an employer going to do in this situation? Do they upgrade Bill so that he can be more productive? That's not fair to Bob who already spent a lot of money on his laptop. What happens if one of their laptops breaks and they cannot afford to fix it; are they out of a job? In grading productivity do they account for their machine's speed? There are just too many problems with this system.

          It's easy to say "life isn't fair" and chalk this up as another thing that is "just the way it is", but I think that's one of the many things wrong in the world today. Everyone deserves an equal chance, and it shouldn't be about how expensive of a laptop you can buy, because then some of the best and most productive workers will be out of a job. To me, that is a completely idiotic way to run a business. Your personal equipment should not affect your chances of landing a job.

        • We're not talking about mechanics in a garage.

          I think the GP has it spot on. The point of an employment relationship is that the employer provides a certain degree of security for the employee — usually starting with a known compensation package and providing the necessary resources to do the job — thus bearing the overheads and risk themselves. In return, the employer keeps any remaining profits once their commitments to their staff are honoured, even if those staff generate many times their wa

    • Re:Nah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NFN_NLN ( 633283 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:52PM (#34883626)

      Wouldn't work. The company would always care about its own security.


      1. Security
        a. If computers are coming and going without permission how do you know which are from employees and which are rogue systems
        b. If computers are coming and going how do you ensure they aren't a threat for Virii or bots
          i. At least with company sanctioned computers they should have virus scanners with updated definitions
      2. Standardization
        a. Whaawhaaa, my xxx isn't working properly; can you fix it: "I NEED IT RIGHT NOW"
          i. Troubleshooting some hipsters 3D floating mouse with alpha drivers for Windows 7 is just a waste of time
        b. Why can't my Windows 7 Home edition logon the domain, no one told me this when I bought it

      • Re:Nah (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:23PM (#34884194)

        Sorry but you are thinking in the box.

        It is easy to setup a secure system. In fact I would argue it would be an even more secure system. Namely you create hard DMZ zones. So for examples developers would have access to version control systems, and development virtual machines that run a plain vanilla server environment. Then once it works there the source code imported back into the security zone. In the security zone the code would auto compile and run as per instructions given by the developer.

        Imagine that, it would be like cloud computing and I would argue it would be safe safe safe because only a very very small subset of people are allowed access to the critical information.

        And if you have to have access to the internal system, then that is why we have things like remote logins...

        • One step further: pure VDI, where every new employee can login to a virtual desktop (running as a VM on a Big Honkin Server) via their LDAP/AD credentials, and can attach to it over VPN from anywhere. As long as the client is universal (VNC, RDC or Java), it should make things even easier and more secure, especially if you disable USB/optical passthru and virtual disk images for everyone you can.

          Virtual desktops with enough cpu/ram for Office and whatever proprietary junk needs to be supported.

          IIRC Redhat

          • []

            it's pretty aggressive. just found out about it a couple months ago. QEMU based. they're doing some cool stuff with virtual devices; qxl is their accelerated graphics driver for Linux & Windows, and is probably gonna end up taking over for NX client now that they're closed source. and yes, i am aware there is a difference between a remote desktop and vm.

            interested to see how RHEL manufacture disk images for the individ

    • Wouldn't work. The company would always care about its own security.

      Not only that but the company also cares about support costs. Ask your helpdesk manager how many more people need to hired to support not a handful of corporate images on a handful of corporate spec computers but to support every make and model that everyone will run out to buy. The first day of this new policy, what are you going to do about the people whose local shop $199 beige box came with Vista Home Basic that needs to connect to the corporate network? Sounds like a support nightmare to me.

  • Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:29PM (#34883222) Journal

    Having email on your phone, or your computer, gives the company authorization to scan the whole thing including your personal data. That was already ruled in court.

    I'd sooner keep my work and life separate, and that includes my gadgets.

    • spot on - if you let the company put a pc into your home, its almost always their pc and not, technically, yours. if they lease you a dsl line, that 'own' that link and all that goes over it.

      lots of implications of allowing work-bought devices into your home and onto your network.

    • by joebok ( 457904 )

      There are compromises possible. To avoid carrying two mobile devices, I have BES on my personal blackberry. When I telecommute, instead of using a junker laptop that the company would provide, I use a virtual machine on my equipment - I VPN to remote-control my workstation at the office so no data or code is ever local.

      From a legal/privacy standpoint, I suppose this might not be ideal should things go horribly wrong - I might be exposing myself to some risk. But I have a good relationship with the compan

    • Having email on your phone, or your computer, gives the company authorization to scan the whole thing including your personal data. That was already ruled in court.

      With cloud-based email that argument probably wouldn't apply - those arguments were based on the presence of the messages on your device/computer.

      Heck, even IMAP might be a decent argument against giving them access.

    • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:29PM (#34885616)

      Exactly. If the company wants you to use better equipment in order to be more productive, then they need to shell out the money for it, and fix their IT operations so that it isn't so cumbersome to get this equipment into employees' hands. If they can't or won't do that, then they deserve to suffer the consequences.

      I'm not going to shell out my own money, and put myself in legal risk, just to make myself more productive at my job. If I'm being held back at work by poor management that way, I'll either put up with it as long as they keep giving me a paycheck, or I'll look for a better-managed company (or probably both at the same time). At work, I'm really nothing more than a hired gun, and as soon as it suits them to get rid of me, they will, so I have no incentive to try to do my job better than I can given the tools that I have.

      Of course, this doesn't mean you should totally slack off either, because then they would have a very good reason to get rid of you. But if the IT equipment is what's holding you back, you can rightfully point to that problem and blame it for your lack of productivity. You can't point at the fact that you spend 4 hours a day on Slashdot as a good excuse. Your performance is really rated in comparison to all your coworkers, so if they have the same equipment problems, they'll all be held back just like you are, so the company isn't going to single you out in that case.

  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:30PM (#34883226)
    So No.
  • Fat chance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    All the projects in your personal computer can be claimed to belong to the company, unless they make agreement in writing. Also, this will create major headache in company's IT and software licensing business.

  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:31PM (#34883248)
    Do it and you will be happier. So what if your own stuff is more powerful, it is yours and used for your things. Stop acting like a slave and use your own time and devices for yourself.
    • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:42PM (#34884438)
      Yeah, I should separate my work life and personal life. That way, instead of sitting here and working from the comfort of my home, hearing my son singing in the other room, and enjoying the time we just spent having lunch together, I can commute to an office, leave my child to be raised by someone else. I could have missed out on seeing his first steps, and hearing his first words. I could have some day care provider tell me about it instead of witnessing it first hand. I could have lunch in my cube instead of in my kitchen with my son. Instead of taking the 6 week road trip that I took with my wife and son last summer, I could have spent that time in a little cubicle and seen my son for a couple of hours a day between the time I got home from the office, and the time that he needed to go to bed.

      I would get all the benefits of missing out on my family AND could proudly say I wasn't a slave. Your suggestion doesn't solve the problem that you think it does. The problem is when work takes part of your personal life without offering a reasonable exchange. The fact is that work life by it's very nature is taking away from your personal life. If you have an employer that doesn't respect your personal life, they are not going to respect it when you separate work from personal. All you will end up with is less personal life, because you are still going to have to do the work. So, the only way to keep them separate is to not include any personal.

      The total separation of work and personal life is dandy for those that don't really want to interact with their spouse or children. Me, I like mine.
  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:31PM (#34883260)

    That's just what I want, to support 30 or 40 different models, brands, or hell even architectures.

    To say nothing of when their own personal laptop that they used to surf horse porn last night brings some nasty viruses to work to test the corporate network.

    And finally, what happens when I tell them "Sorry, you're going to need to downgrade your os/office suite/creativity suite/whatever to be compatable with the tools we've already paid thousands of dollars for and aren't going to get a new license just for your special snowflake hardware there".

    No thanks. I'm happy with standardized hardware. if you keep facebook and yahoo messenger off it (thank god for corporate virus protection that can prevent unauthorized installers/msi files), it'll run nice and quick.

    Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007. This is work. Do work.

    • Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007.

      True, but it'll probably burst into flames in the process.

    • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:39PM (#34883376) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007. This is work. Do work.

      Oh, what I would give to be able to get everything done with Office 2003 or 2007! As it is, my PDF viewer has to fight over the virus scanner, 2 firewalls, IDS, "policy manager", and probably a tattletale program or two thrown in for good measure by the IT guys who want their 10 or so lives to be simple at the expense of the simplicity of the 1000 users who have to fight their computer to get it to do what they want it to.

      Hey, at least browsing Slashdot is nice and fast! Maybe that's why it's so damn addictive.

      • Slashdot is fast? They must let you have firefox or chrome. Slashdot on IE is bang-head-against-wall slow.

        Thank god for RDPing into your home machine.

        I've been on both ends of the stick. I've been the guy sitting there trying to do his job with one of 300 cloned machines with company standard hobbling and nannyware, and I've been the guy who hands out those machines to people and tries to support them.

        You wouldn't believe how many ways people can still manage to break their machines no matter what you try t

      • ...the IT guys who want their 10 or so lives to be simple at the expense of the simplicity of the 1000 users who have to fight their computer to get it to do what they want it to.

        Wow, you have ten IT guys to support 1000 users? That's 100 users per support person.

        Imagine the fun for everyone involved if just fifty of those users went to the wrong website and picked up a bot or virus. Fifty people who are demanding immediate response from the ten IT guys to "fix it so I can do my work", the head of IT sto

    • by HFShadow ( 530449 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:46PM (#34883500)

      Did you read the article? Or maybe even skim it? Instead of basing your comment entirely off the summary?

      In particular:

      Staff taking advantage of the scheme must buy a three-year service contract. "From that point forth the device is their responsibility, and not that of the company," adds Mr Hollison. "We don't asset manage it in any way. "If they want to fill it full of photos and videos of their children, they're free to do so, because the connection back to Citrix is securely in the data centre.

      So they're not running any business apps on their laptop, that's all at the dc on their citrix setup. They're also responsible for maintaining their own gear. Sorry, what was your argument again?

      • by Imagix ( 695350 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:01PM (#34883810)
        Huh? If everything is running off of Citrix back in the datacenter, then who really cares what the PC sitting in front of the user is doing? It's a glorified dumb terminal anyway. You don't need the latest whiz-bang machine to talk to Citrix.
      • Staff taking advantage of the scheme must buy a three-year service contract.

        Why on earth would I shell out my own money to use my own computer for work purposes?

        If they want me to access my work computer from home, they can damn well pay for it themselves. Otherwise, I'll just wait until I get to the office. There's nothing going on at work that's so important that I need to do it from home.

    • There is no way I am going to let work enforce their Group Policy settings on my personal hardware. Or slow down my computer with mandatory Symantec junk, or all the crapware that comes with National Instruments software. Or wipe my machine when some idiot emails sensitive information.

      I don't mind using RemoteDesktop from home every now and then if it saves me from coming into work, but that is about the limit.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      If people are going to own their own computers, they're going to own their own software.

      Corporate IT policy would be that files are stored in a certain place on the company servers for archival backups, and certain file formats are required for standardized communications.

      Plus a raft of security requirements that are the user's responsibility.

      Beyond that, it's ad hoc. No support needed. No particular piece of user-level software on a corporate license.

      Of course, that eliminates the ability to get site-lic

      • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
        I worked for a place where everyone was expected to have their own PCs for work. It was an f'ing nightmare. It's all well and good to say that PC issues aren't the IT Deparment's problem... until your best salesman cruds up his computer from spending all of his free time looking at porn and playing poker online. So he's out there not making money which makes the company furious. They can't just fire him because he's worth too much. If only they had someone who knew how to fix PCs.

        Hey you know who kno
    • Seriously, a 5 year old pendium D with 2gb of ram running XP will tear the fuck out of office 2003 or 2007. This is work. Do work.

      You have my complete agreement, but I bet you have many managers/employees of influence sharpening their knives behind your back when you won't give them their latest $TOY_OF_THE_MONTH.

    • by Piata ( 927858 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:16PM (#34884094)

      I completely understand your position but it's also one that has turned IE6 into an unstoppable zombie juggernaut. The "if you can do work on it, why upgrade" mentality has held back the web for some 12 years. Staying up to date with frequent tech refreshes can have a performance boost in the workplace and avoids a forced upgrade for all office equipment. A 5 year old pentium D with 2GB of RAM running XP will not tear the fuck out of a 60MB PSD file, nor will it gracefully handle a large AI file. It also can't install IE9, which means HTML5 cannot be widely adopted until the majority of the business world drops winXP.

  • As these things get cheaper and cheaper, maybe so. But then again, maybe not.

    For years I have always purchased my own engineering calculators. I'm glad they are my personal property.

    A few years ago I purchased my own 3D mouse for CAD work. I am glad I own it, also. They are so cheap that I can't imagine operating CAD software without one, regardless of whether the company would pay for one or not.

    Computers may be approaching that cost level.


    The problem is that computers must interface with the corpor

  • I use my own computer simply because, pure and simple, it works and I am intimate with it (minus the candles and Barry White). I'm a developer and use a Macbook Pro, but I have been in environments where all that was available was Windows and I have witnessed other developers installing Cygwin, recompiling MySQL to work with the Windows binary, etc etc. Not that this is ineffective, it's just a matter of being time consuming and being a contractor where I'm hired by the job, time is money.
    • One of the more interesting ideas I've had in a while was that if I was ever hired by someone who wanted me to use a windows laptop. I would sell it and buy a mac. Just because I've spent far too much time fighting windows to ever want to see it again.

      Like at the university I go to, it takes 2-3 minutes to log onto a new windows machine, while you can log into a linux machine in a matter of seconds

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:32PM (#34883278) Homepage Journal

    2: Require them to do so.
    3: Don't pay them to do so.
    4: Profit!

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      3a. Charge them to do so.

    • This reminds me of the policy my college adopted back in the mid-nineties that mandated having personal computers on enrollment. This gave professors the flexibility to mandate computer use, but lifted the burden from the university to provide adequate resources to their students. When questioned about this disparity, the school administrators simply said to get a student loan and buy a computer if you didn't have one.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:33PM (#34883288)

    Several of the examples in the article are not talking about owning your own computer, but using your own computer to access a remote desktop on a VM in a server farm somewhere. I fail to see how this makes the computer "your own" or allows you to customize it to your requirements. Quite the opposite, because VDI images are usually the same snapshot of the same VM with your user profile mounted over a network.

    Sounds like business promoting an externality to me - they want all the advantages of a locked down computer in a physically secure location, realized they'll have to shell out for the server farm, the network infrastructure AND a bunch of VDI terminals - and then realized they could get silly mugs to pay for their own terminal on the premise they are "owning their own".

    This is a world apart from companies that actually allow users to be in charge of their own computer - and that typically is only practical, and only occurs, where there is a high level of tech savvy. Like Google, who will buy you the computer you ask for and let you install what the hell you like on it.

    Kraft? I'd be gobsmacked if they fell into the latter group.

  • Slippery Slope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by c++0xFF ( 1758032 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:33PM (#34883300)

    Good idea: letting your employees bring in their own computers
    Bad idea: making your employees bring in their own computers

    And I'm not even saying that it would become official company policy. Once a manager sees the savings, the upgrade cycle becomes even more drawn out and employees have to bring in their own stuff by default, just to get anything done.

    But if I could charge my company a rental fee for bringing in my own computer ... that might change things a bit. :)

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No, both are bad ideas.

    • Bad idea: letting your employees bring in their own computers

      There, fixed that for you.

      The first time someone brings in their own computer and uses that personal copy of Office or Matlab or other really expensive licensed program for corporate work and gets caught, the money saved by not having to buy that new system will prove the adage "penny wise, pound foolish". And ditto when the employee walks out with a copy of several expensive company-licensed programs and another copy has to be purchased for hi

  • I used my own laptop whenever I could, of-course for a contractor it's not too hard, but they won't let you do it everywhere, there are 'security concerns', and 'network standards', as if there is anything I cannot do to the network once I am on the inside of the company already. It's silly.

  • Uh, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jethro ( 14165 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:34PM (#34883312) Homepage

    That's a bit on the ridiculous side, especially for large enterprise. An employer needs to secure their network, and that includes all devices connected to the network. ALL OF THEM. If people own the computers then they can rightfully put whatever programs they want on them and then security goes out the window. You may THINK that if you citrix/whatever in there, but employees will eventually use their personal desktop space for critical and sensitive information instead of leaving it on the "secure" network, and you'd have no way to check or enforce this.

  • They'd want control over my home system including installing corporate sanctioned or purchased software and need to manage assets.

    For the technical folks, certainly we'd have better systems. But someone not quite so technical might only have an e-machine or an old Linux box someone set up for them or even an old Windows 98 SE box.

    There is also the compatibility issues. I may be using OpenOffice while the other guy is using MS Office 2007 and the next guy is using emacs.

    Not to mention issues with internal so

    • All the real work happens on a virtual machine running on a central server farm. Everyone logs in over the network and gets a locked-down uniform corporate virtual machine.

      It doesn't matter what physical device the employees use to connect to the server, since from the point of view of the employer nothing important happens on the employee's device--it's just a terminal.

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:36PM (#34883338)

    Aren't people who use all of their own equipment to do a job called consultants? I'll happily use my equipment but you will pay for the privilege.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Yes, because the IRS rules state if you don't use your own equipment and office space you probably aren't a consultant, even if you're a high-paid itinerant temporary worker.

  • I would use a company computer, but my cell phone is always mine so I can turn the thing off.

  • I assume the article is referring to small businesses who can't buy gear in bulk. I maintained a server for a company like that. One guy used his own laptop on the company network and used the same machine to browse dodgy porn sites from home after hours. That machine was the sole source of virus infections on the LAN and I wish I had been able to ban that machine from the site.

    In other news where I work people are buying tablets for web browsing because our IT policies contain no definition for acceptable

  • Note: I have brought in my macbook to work before (as a consultant).

    The use of internal standard software (Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat Pro in my case) posed a difficult problem since the licensing is hard to track... employee leaves company, but keeps the laptop, employee brings own software, etc.

    Finally the issue of company information and security is better managed if the user of the laptop doesn't have root.

  • It's interesting to see the article focus so much on Citrix, when VMware currently has the most market share in VDI.
  • How about letting users add more memory, another hard drive etc?

    Seems more reasonable.

    • Anecdotally I hear a lot of users do this anyway. I know I do.

      The pain and suffering it takes to go through procurement to get an $80 RAM upgrade that the outsourced 3rd-party support will charge $200 for anyway and take weeks to fit, is worth paying the $80 to avoid. I get to be more productive, which is satisfying, which is again, worth more than $80. I may even save myself doing more than $80 worth of unpaid overtime because my computer works faster.

      And at the end of it, when I leave, my old desktop gets

  • You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt.
    Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
    I owe my soul to the company store.

  • What can I say. I think this is a terrible idea.

    I don't know about the US, but here in Europe the employer provides everything the the employee needs. A programmer with 3-5 years of university education really shouldn't spend their time trying to set up a secure backup solution. That should be the job of someone who doesn't know how to build an operating system from the ground up, or how to write an ip-stack or plan huge complex software solutions for managing more information a second than any human could

  • No. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bb5ch39t ( 786551 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:47PM (#34883520)
    My machines belong to me. The stuff on them is mine, not the company's. And I don't want any confusion about that. I have VPN access from home to the corporate LAN. We also have a Windows "work at home" server which is accessible via MS's mstsc. I use that, not the VPN/LAN. I use Linux at home and rdesktop to access that server. Once on that server, I use mstsc to access my work desktop. Why? it makes my home machine safer. My home machine is more of a "dumb terminal" which cannot be infected by or infect anything at work. Or at least it is significantly less likely. I'm not aware of any virus which can spread over an mstsc link. Which means little, given my ignorance. My home system is behind a firewall/router, so hopefully it is too much trouble to crack. I don't need "impossible", just need "harder than average" to discourage most. Running Linux and no Windows also helps.
  • by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:51PM (#34883608)

    Pretty much all the companies mentioned are using virtual desktops. That is, the physical device is essentially a glorified terminal for the purposes of work. The connection to the "real" corporate machine is an encrypted session to a central server.

    So they don't care about viruses because there is nothing directly on the unencrypted network. They don't care about support because anyone with nonstandard hardware is responsible for their own support, and the corporate support only handles the contents of the virtual machine.

    So they don't care what you're running in terms of a physical device as long as you can connect to the central server to do the "real work".

  • The first step is semi-rational, the next step is coercion -- outsourcing company costs onto payroll. Why not just force IT to take employee recommendations on what IT should have bought in instance one?

  • by geekoid ( 135745 )

    Not ever.

    Besides, in most cases a 5 year old computer is fine.

    If ti compiles slow? let your supervisor know how much longer it takes you, then go about your job. If they want to pay you for the extra 10 minutes of compiling time, then so be it.

    You do NOT need the at least, greatest all the time. N matter how much we want it and come up with reason we think we need one.

    Of course, you also can't claim separation from work and home, so any ideas you write up, or code may become the companies.

    To sum up:

    No, nada

  • IT costs vs human costs have gone down, down, down and this trend is likely to continue. The tools to manage a large group of machines through Group Policy or other means are becoming more and more advanced with minimal staff supporting a huge number of computers. Of course you could have your employees bring in their own computers and use tons of company time - or IT time - to meddle with their computers, because that's work now right? This goes against all sanity of why you have support departments in cor

  • Compter vs Salary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:56PM (#34883708)

    Your company needs to seriously rebalance its internal strucutres if the productivity of a >$50k salaray employee is being impacted by the failure to make a yearly $2k investment in hardware. The simple numbers say a 5% increase in employee productivity justifies the expense.

    If the problem is staff funding vs IT funding the managers need to escalate it. Save on the staff funding by doing the IT funding. If the company can't do the math and do the rebalancing then it is a bad corporate structure.

  • by sillivalley ( 411349 ) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {yellavillis}> on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:58PM (#34883758)
    Until director-level folks, CEO, CFO, other executives, and board members start demanding to use their iPads for things like e-mail and calendars.

    About the only defense IT has is to say, "Fine, to do that we have to do a forklift upgrade of our mail/calendar infrastructure -- $xxx,xxx."

    But when the CEO and CFO say, "do it," you do it.

    Oh, and don't start on those weirdo creative types in marketing and documentation that bring in their own Macs anyway...

    Some businesses, rather than going neurotic about access controls are instead asking, how do we enable employees to use the best tools for their jobs? Yeah, some can get away with XP on a Pentium box. Others want Linux and command lines. Others go for Macs. An iPad can be nearly deal for an exec that lives by e-mail and calendar and doesn't do a lot of content creation.

    Figure out how to give people access to the tools that work -- for them
  • Anyone with any sort of managed IT infrastructure should shit a brick at this.

    Sure, it SOUNDS nice, until the first time you have a non-compliant user. How do you enforce your security policies on hardware that your company does not own?

    What's more, you now are taking up responsibility for a massive heterogeneous environment. While EQUIPMENT costs may go down, support costs for a huge variety of systems, operating systems, and compatibility issues with various OEM/VAR add-ins would shoot through the roof.

  • Bad idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ynsats ( 922697 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:18PM (#34884116)

    ...not because it's just a bad idea to provide cutting edge equipment to do the job. It's a bad idea because of one liability.

    Right now, companies all over the world, are battling governments, civil rights unions, employee unions, activist organizations and so one over the idea of personal privacy. Personal privacy doesn't really exist but we like to make up the illusion that it does by saying something is mine and you can't have it or tell me what to do with it. It's mine, mine, mine, all mine, keep your grubby hands off it you evil, faceless corporation!

    That's all well and good until it comes time to clean up a mess like a data spill or a hostile attack on a system. See, corporations have a much easier time enforcing computing policies when they provide the equipment, network and other computing equipment for their employees. When they own the equipment, there is no longer a question of "civil rights" because of the idea of private property. Just like you, at home, reserve the right to limit public access to your home and all the things you have in and around it in any way you see fit, so do the corporations. Democracy stops at the front door in the interests of the more bureaucratic but often more efficient hierarchy of a private, tiered dictatorship.

    When the company owns the equipment, if they allow you any level of personal use or personal privacy beyond the minimal amounts that most labor laws require, it's by courtesy only. They can tell you what you can and can't do with their private equipment. That extends to whatever security, anti-virus, anti-malware and proxy level they choose to instantiate in their systems to protect company assets and property. Sure you can lobby against it and whine like a petulant child but in reality, you don't have much of a foot to stand on.

    If you allow workers to use their own machines, you open a gigantic security hole as well a massive logistical problem in maintaining and securing your networks and shared resources. How do you ensure that users are keeping their systems up to date with patches and updates? How do you ensure they are using a compatible version of an OS? How do you even ensure they are using a LEGAL copy and not a pirated version rife with back doors and other little nasties? What do you do about limiting network access? You could use a VPN system with something like RSA's SecureID system but then you are talking massive amounts of system overhead with poor network performance.

    There is a host of problems associated with the idea that I could list for hours. Those are all technical. They do not even address the human factor. Even as it is now, when one employee gets a system upgrade while another languishes away in obsolete-system-land, it starts petulant in-fighting and envious behavior until the other employees are satiated. That only lasts until the next round of upgrades. What happens when Joe is still stuck with, say, a Dell C600 'cause that's all he can afford after paying Little Joey's college tuition and Ned comes in with a brand new MacBook Air? The jealousy will still be there. It will probably foster dissent about Ned's level of compensation vs. his perceived contribution as well. That bring a whole new mess of problems for HR. You're no longer managing people as much as you are babysitting them.

    Maybe there is a bottom line benefit to the idea. However, people have an amazing affect on a bottom line in ways that most management seems to have an inability to comprehend. I'll leave it all at that because I could easily go on for pages about this. Especially since I'm one of those system security weenies that would have to deal with the aftermath of implementing such an idea. The words nuclear holocaust come to mind to describe what the networks would look like afterwords.

  • Who Be Da Boss? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:32PM (#34884308)

    If I can afford better gear than my employer I need to get a better employer.

  • I've brought my own laptop to a startup that employed me on a W-2 basis. The idea being, it's already set up with all of my dev and productivity tools, and I'm comfortable with its performance, so why spend $$ on giving someone a duplicate of what they already have (that I'm not using during business hours otherwise), if they're still willing to sign the agreement saying they give all rights to what they do for you in the workplace to the employer? (Note: it's crucial in these situations to make sure that you keep rights to your OWN stuff developed on the same hardware for non-work purposes.)

    Another time, years ago, I was stuck with a 486sx PC. I had a Sun Sparcstation at home. I brought in the Sparcstation and was much, much, much more productive for two weeks, until the beancounters spied it and asked WTF? I copped to it being my personal machine, whereupon they directed me to take it home at the end of the day because it ran afoul of their insurance requirements that all in-house equipment be owned by the company. It was only months later that I realized they leased a crapload of machines from GE Leasing, and that I could have suggested, "Why don't you lease it from me for $1/month?", as a way around that if the problem REALLY was the insurance issue they described.

    Still another time, I worked for a large tech company. Whilst they were a bit skittish about people's personal laptops being connected to the domain, as long as you went through the setup process to put all of their security software on your machine (and were willing to accept someone else's closed-source security software whose full functionality you could not predict), they tended to tolerate it. Eventually, they got more generous in handing out laptops.

    At the same company, they have a policy of allowing personal phones to connect to the Exchange server for email and calendaring purposes. Not everyone gets a company cell phone, but since it's a company full of geeks, most employees have one of their own. Being able to catch up on your email in the morning whilst on the bus to work, and being reminded while you're out at lunch that a super-important meeting is beginning in 15 minutes and you better get yourself back to the office, are valuable things that contribute to productivity. Sure, the company may lose a bit in security by "opening up" their email server to personal devices, but multiple large and small companies I know have concluded that the tradeoff is worth it. Funny thing was, they didn't like iphone, and I THINK they might even have had an official policy against allowing iphones on their network, but since at least 20% of the technical staff at the company (a couple years ago) seemed to use iphones, I'm not sure it was enforced.

    At my present employer, only high level managers and up have access to smartphone based email. Some other employees have company phones, but they're not net-access-capable. However, many employees seem to have Apple, HTC, Sony, etc. devices with smartphone functionality -- and many of them could benefit from being able to send "oops, I'll be a bit late, stuck in traffic" to the office, or check their email while out in the field, etc. So I'm currently playing change agent and talking up the benefits of allowing them access to company email from those devices.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal