I work in a 50 odd employee start-up and I am in a senior techno-managerial role (reporting to CEO). Usually culture is fairly informal and lots of policies are not officially documented. Some emails once in a while or just verbal communication is made about a new decision.

Recently, the company banned use of personal laptops in the work-area. However, a lot of employees figured out a workaround to use personal laptops to get the job done by technically not being in the "work-area". This is actually helping them be more productive and get a lot of work done faster.

I do think it is kind of mocking the entire policy. I am not sure if my boss currently is unaware of people still using their personal laptops or aware and just too busy to address this.

I can escalate this to him but that would mean that he would have to take some action on it immediately. (Overall the company wants to do everything the right way. So I would be surprised if they let this go even after someone raises it officially).

My concerns in raising this issue are:

  1. We would actually be less productive than before. (Something which my boss would have to realize eventually and do something about)

  2. In a small company, I would immediately make a lot of people unhappy by interfering in their work. (My role does not have any formal authority over them).

So my question is how do I handle this? Should I mind my own business and let my boss figure out the problem and solution on his own; Or go and talk to him explain the situation and risk low productivity for the company along with facing angry people. My day-to-day work does not get affected either ways.

Edit: Just to clarify based on the answers and comments, no one is using pirated software. It is just that using personal laptops is easier than office issued Linux desktops (long story of why they decided to do that but it is avalid reason).

Also, I do not have the authority to change policy or provide hardware/software. Also, my work and my responsibilities are not affected by this policy or people following it or not following it.

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    The part I'm struggling to get my head around is that some significant number of employees feel that they have to use their own equipment at work in order to get the job done. Is the company-supplied equipment really that inferior? Is management really so unaware of what equipment is required to be able to perform the duties assigned to their employees?! This sounds extremely dysfunctional ...
    – brhans
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 12:44
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    What pirated software is being used? Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:06
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    using personal laptop is easier than office issued Linux desktop Easier in what way? Is the desktop just slower or do the employees want the mobility of the laptop?
    – BSMP
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:17
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    @MisterPositive lesson learned but that was exactly the reason why company decided to ban but more as preemptive effort. Not that anyone was doing it
    – PagMax
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:25
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    Can I summarize and reword your question? I feel like people are getting bogged down in the details of the policy, not the actual question you're asking. Tell me if I have this right: There's a company policy and other employees (not yourself) are violating it. You are not their manager, and the policy (and their violation) does not directly affect you or the work tasks assigned to you. You are asking how you should handle the fact that you've noticed other people violating a policy.
    – dwizum
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:43

3 Answers 3


Buy the software / edit: equipment your employees need to be productive.

If this software/equipment is so valuable to your staff that they're willing to jump through this many hoops to get it, buy it for them.

If your office machines are under-provisioned or lack the software/hardware people need, you're not just going to have a problem with productivity, you're going to have a problem with staff retention and eventually recruiting as word gets around.

What about their personal machines is so attractive to them or what about the work machines is so bad? Fix it.

Also, baning personal laptops for fear that people might use pirated software seems remarkably untrusting of your employees. They don't like that. What's preventing them from just insalling pirated software on their work machines? If you say, "we have restricted developers admin rights on the devices they use", I'm amazed that you have any developers left on staff to complain about. If you haven't, then your policy of forbidding personal machines is only insulting them since they could just install anything on their work machines as it is.

No longer relevant considering the edited question, but still worth mentioning: You might also find out if there is a free option, then find out if that would be suitable for your employees and use that. But I suspect they've already done that research for you and determined that they'd rather just use the pirated version.

  • I edited my question. It is not about a software. No one is using pirated software at all. I just mentioned pirated software because company is afraid someone might accidentally have some software which is not legal on their personal laptop and may hurt them. I have no reason to believe anyone is using pirated software for office work
    – PagMax
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:14
  • Also, my role does not give me authority to buy any software or hardware for anyone. So it is not upto me. Again, pirated software is not an issue here
    – PagMax
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:18
  • Aquire that authority. Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:21

Work out why people are insisting on using personal laptops in preference to working with their work laptops and then plug that gap.

You're saying that people aren't using pirated software, so there must be another reason for it.

  • I should have made this clear in the first draft itself. No one is using pirated software. I edited my question now
    – PagMax
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:19
  • @PagMax So edit your question so that it doesn't reference pirated software. You're making the implication that people are using pirated software to do their jobs by saying that pirated software is the reason that people can't use personal laptops at work....
    – user44108
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:21
  • yes I realise how I created confusion and apologies for that. I removed the reference to pirated software now.
    – PagMax
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:39

So my question is how do I handle this?

As a manager type, you are more accountable than most for damage done by using pirated software or by allowing employees to use their personal equipment. You should inform your manager of the risks posed by the actions you have seen.

The employees are putting your network at risk by bringing their own "germs" onto your network, unless of course your security team extends updates and such to personal devices too. (which I doubt as your in a company that is a start up)

Short answer: Provide the equipment and software needed for your employees to do their jobs. If you have a BYOD policy, make sure your able to secure these devices from viruses and other types of attacks.

  • I agree especially the last paragraph. Just that none of it is my authority. I am just a observer here. I cannot provide any software or hardware or change any policy. My job is not effected by this policy
    – PagMax
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:27
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    @PagMax report it. You as a manager type have witnessed risky actions by employees. Work with your manager to come up with a safe BYOD policy or do not allow employees to do this.
    – Neo
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 13:29

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