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Just this week I started working for a new company. I've been developing code and going through the database the past couple of days on my machine. Everything is working fine, I set up a new account and it's hooked into the domain and everything.

Today, the Director IT gave me a "work" computer. It's running Windows XP with 3 GB of ram, and has a 11 inch screen. He also mentioned I could possibly use a remote desktop for development.

This would make it incredibly difficult for me.

I have a 2012 Retina Display Macbook Pro, running Windows 7, with 8GB RAM, Core i7, etc. I am much more comfortable with it, and it has the power I need to get the job done and run the multiple programs with no lag.

This is not a development company of any kind. I am simply the "in house developer", and I will be working from home 99% of the time.

How can I tell them that I would prefer to use my own computer so I can get the work done much more effectively? (Also, I would absolutely HATE my life working with their machine.) Or should I just take their machine and use mine anyways?

Update - 3/31/2017

I thought I would add what my actions were and the result of those actions as this post is still getting attention four years later.

I politely communicated my concerns and they were received well. I was able to use my personal laptop until I was converted from a contractor to a full time employee, at which point they had managed to get a couple nicer rigs for engineers/developers. Still got skimped on monitor/keyboard for the next several months though.

I no longer work at this company, but looking back this initial laptop business should have been a red flag indicating the company wanted to save money wherever possible. While I did enjoy working there, many constraints were posed due to working with old servers with little to no hard drive space, performance issues, and software from 2003. If you find yourself in this situation, proceed with caution. I'm not saying don't take the job - but do make sure you have a full understanding of what you're getting yourself into with the new company.

  • Will they allow you to install required hardware/software onto your computer so that you can connect to their network. If so they may never know what machine you are using. – mhoran_psprep Mar 28 '13 at 10:37
  • @DoctorOreo Are you a contractor or full-time? – MrFox Mar 28 '13 at 14:32
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    I'd ask for a better machine. State it simply as "I can use this machine, but I'm going to be incredibly inefficient." – DA. Mar 28 '13 at 22:29
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    As an aside, in corporate land, 3 out of my last 4 gigs were like this. They'd hire me on with a nice salary, benefits and then skimp on the laptop. Typically a half-working 4 year old dell. Companies don't bat an eye when it comes to buying desks and chairs for employees, but seem to not be able to comprehend that it's also important to spend money on the single most importan piece of office furniture...the actual machine you need to use. – DA. Mar 28 '13 at 22:30
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    +1 for the update. It's always nice to hear how things turn out. Also, when I first read this, I assumed you were being given Windows XP and 3GB of RAM in 2017. Heh! – user45590 Mar 31 '17 at 15:43
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Do not just start using your own machine. That could end up being a fire-able offense. As well, you may have to change your setup in order for them to be ok with using your own machine. I would recommend an email something like this:

As you know, I started working on [whatever] earlier this week with my own machine. I've tried switching back and forth between my machine and the one you brought me, and it's a little awkward. I think I'd be more productive if I just used my own machine full time. I don't need any compensation for this: I know you provided me a machine I could use, but mine is faster, it has a bigger screen, and I'm familiar with its keyboard layout. What do I need to set up on my machine to comply with your policies? I already have [list the dev tools, utilities, and security stuff. This is important. I get so annoyed at people who can't open a PDF or can't open an .xlsx or .docx or can't whatever, and I would get even more annoyed if I gave them a machine with those utilities in place for them.] All of my [code, database scripts, documents] are stored [in your repository, in my repository, on the departmental server] anyway, and backed up from there, so it shouldn't affect anyone else if I use this machine, but I want to be sure it's ok with you. Let me know what steps I need to to take, if any, so I can use just my own machine all the time.

You might still get pushback. Tool time, where I pay people to install and configure tools, irritates me. A less technical boss might worry about viruses or whatever. Reassure them that you're using everything (and more) that the machine they provided you was using. And if it gets to the point where you would leave the job if they won't budge, tell them that - but you'd better mean it.

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    I wouldn't even suggest using your own computer; it blurs the lines too much between personal and company resources. And that is often far too intrusive. For example, if I were to do this at my office, I'd be required to route all my activity through the corporate web filter - even when not on the corporate network. Maybe a virtual machine configured to company specs running on my personal computer, but that's the most I would find acceptable. – alroc Mar 27 '13 at 22:58
  • Id also get them to provide you with a proper desktop or a suitable docking station and a popper keyboard/mouse quote the RSI/DSE regs for your country both the UK and USA laws a about workplace safety apply to home workers. In the UK home workers have to have their home workplace inspected make sure the DSE regs are being followed. I assume that OSHA will have similar protections for home workers – Neuro Mar 27 '13 at 23:12
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    BYOD is getting popular nowadays, but you need to be sure that it does not come into conflict with company policy (e.g. security, etc). – Lie Ryan Mar 28 '13 at 4:05
  • FWIW, many of us use our own computers at my current (and past) gigs. It's a reality of life. We're told to accomplish certain tasks, and not given the tools to do so. Granted, this is all under the 'wink wink' of our superiors, so definitely don't do it on the sly. – DA. Mar 28 '13 at 22:27
  • +1 - this helped with the issue. Conditions still aren't ideal, but it's a ton better than what I had before. Thanks for the advice. – Cody Apr 14 '13 at 22:54
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To expand a bit on my comment on @KateGregory's answer, the problem you face with using your own computer is "who owns what?". How is a line drawn between things that you do on that computer for the company vs. for yourself? If you work on other projects off the clock, can the company make any claim to those? Does the computer have to comply with all corporate standards & policies, including antivirus, web filtering, remote scanning for unapproved software, etc.? Who owns the software you're using? Who's responsible for the licensing?

You are going to have to wait a couple weeks before you can make any kind of pitch to get a usable computer. Otherwise, you come across as the new guy who wants everything "just so", and that will not earn you any points.

You need to bring facts and hard evidence to make a compelling case. If you're doing any development w/ the MS stack (.NET, SQL Server, etc.) and deploying to Windows Vista, Windows 2008 Server or newer, this becomes a lot easier. The differences between XP and Server 2008 are significant enough for developers that you can't easily develop & test locally on XP and have things work right away when you've deployed to the server. For example, various paths on the filesystem differ, especially Program Files. I fought with this for a while (XP on my laptop, then finally gave up and pitched for an upgrade to Win7 (they ended up getting me a whole new system, instead of just upgrading me).

What development tools are you using? The latest releases of all of MS's tools require Windows 7, IIRC.

If you're doing anything that requires managing an Active Directory environment running on Windows Server 2008 or newer, the RSAT tools and AD modules for PowerShell require Win7.

Lay out the system requirements for all the tools that you use. Total up the memory requirements especially. Point out that to run the programs that are required to do the job require more memory than you have right now.

For the display, give screenshots of each app on the 11" display that you've been given.

The key here is you need to demonstrate the value that the company will get by shelling out the $1600 or so for the ThinkPad W520 you need to get the job done. You say it's not a development shop - they may not even know what the various programs you use look like, let alone how much screen space & RAM they need.

If all else fails, become an independent contractor & use whatever you like.

  • Yep, all development is .NET 4 / 4.5 (which isn't even supported on XP) as well as SQL Server, being deployed to Windows 2008 Server. I would be using Active Directory, as well. – Cody Mar 28 '13 at 16:36
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    Then "I need a computer capable of running the software I'm expected to develop, and I do not have that right now" needs to be dropped into your pitch too. You're a roofer who's been told he can't use a hammer or any sort of power nailer - you're being denied the tools that are required to perform your job. – alroc Mar 28 '13 at 16:46
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The company I work for does not allow personal computers on the network. It's viewed as a breach of network security. Personally, if I find myself in your situation, I would make the case that the computer provided to me is not up to standard and will impede my productivity, and request a new machine.

I wouldn't recommend using your personal computer for work regardless. If you want to install stuff on your own machine, for instance, you don't want to have to worry about how it's going to affect your work.

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Unless your company explicitly has a BYOD policy (Bring Your Own Device), do not in any circumstances use your own machine for company usage.

I'm in a similar situation as yours, except I've a display larger than 11". The Visual Studio 2010 (with some extensions) took around 10 minutes to be usable, and some time I can sit back and watch my codes appear letter by letter.

Request for a better machine in a non-software company required very powerful justifications. Data metric will be useful and prevent lengthy word, no one want to read an essay so that you can get a good machine.

Below are something you can use in your justification:

  1. Potential development timeline if using the under-power machine vs better machine.
  2. Cost of development when using under-power machine vs better machine.
  3. Saving in the long term if provided a better machine.
  4. etc.

The justification works for me. Management people like to see cost being saved.

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    I think the first sentence is a bit strong, especially at smaller companies, which may not have written policies to cover every conceivable scenario. I would be happy to go ahead and use my own computer if I got approval from my manager, and it did not conflict with any explicit company policies. – user45590 Mar 31 '17 at 15:48
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    Kinda amazing to see such strongly worded post from a younger me. I agree with you that employees should be able to use their own devices if approvals are given in written form (C.Y.A. purpose). Though it's still highly recommended to use a company-issued device when dealing with sensitive information (i.e financial stuff). – viclim Apr 1 '17 at 16:28

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