We all have monitors that can tilt vertically already. On my second day I rotated one of my monitors since I like keeping a text editor or terminal window there. I work a lot better and more comfortably this way. My manager came over about an hour after I did this and said that's an "unsupported configuration" and I need to revert back to the approved setup so IT can work on my PC. I told him that I strongly prefer it, and I can even tilt it back for IT whenever they need to do something, but he said "If I let you do it then I'll have to let everyone do it". Since then I occasionally tilt it when I really have a lot of work to get done, and I do work faster this way, but every time it only lasts about an hour before he comes over and tells me to put it back. How can I convince my manager to let me work this way permanently?
You need to be able to divine the "Real Reason™" behind what your boss is saying.
Option 1: He's truly unaware it's a "supported configuration." As the one who is in charge of IT for my company, my response would be, "Well, yeah. Put it any way you want. Call us if it stops working." They're designed to be used that way. If you want, I'll bring a screwdriver down to change out the mount to vertical. If you have to "hot bunk" with other team members, I'll start getting pivoting stands. IMO - employee's "happiness" with their setup equates to improved morale, which means higher productivity and lower turnover. Sure, whether or not the monitor is vertical or not isn't going to make you quit or stay, but a few dozen little things like that will add up. I never begrudge someone wanting a new mouse, keyboard, or headphones. $40 in hardware is a heck of a lot cheaper than recruiting, onboarding, and training new staff.
Option 2: Your boss is a control freak. He likely doesn't understand what is actually going on, so he obsesses about what he can control. Your monitor is something he can understand.
If you believe you're in "Option 1" territory, just email your help desk and ask if it's OK, and then show your boss. All should be good.
If you believe you're in "Option 2," then you have a lot more to be concerned about than monitor orientation.
FWIW: I just put this system together because our Ops guys asked for it (so they could see the big monitors behind their desk, but still walk between the desks):
Document your manager's nonsense. Talk to IT about it and when IT tells you that's the dumbest thing you've ever heard, tell your manager's boss about it. This is one of those situations where you either need to check your manager, or you need to check whoever told your manager this was okay. When you go to do this, you will need proof.
It would also be a good idea to document your productivity increase with your preferred set up in some way. It's a lot harder to argue with you moving things around to your liking when not letting you do that is costing the company a lot of money.
Also dust off you resume, this company might turn out to be "not the best".
Having had the great fortune of working with pathological managers for most of my past career, I would suggest the following:
Request your IT people to send an email company wide explaining that it is safe and approved to use monitors vertically, like the usual sort of informational emails that are sent company wide by IT departments. If they are not willing to send a company wide email request them to send it to everyone in your department including your manager. The next time your manager objects to your using the monitor vertically you can tell him it is approved by IT.
If that fails, the next time your manager objects to your using the monitor vertically, explain to him politely but with a serious face and in a clear voice that modern monitors are made water tight and the words and images on the screen will not leak out and drip all over your desk even if the monitor is turned vertical. This sort of approach has actually worked for me in addressing the stupidity and pathology of a few of my past managers. Do not break up laughing or even smile while you explain this to your manager.
Start looking for a job in another company. Your manager's pathology will eventually affect all aspects of your work and will blight the time you spend at work. You may be able to find a more sensible manager in the same company, but in my experience if there is one rotten apple in a company there usually lots and and lots more. So moving to another position in the same company is not likely to be effective. Companies, like trees, tend to rot from the top and rotten people overwhelmingly tend to hire other rotten people.
Ergonomics is serious business
A dear friend had to use a workstation setup that was not set up well for her. She had raised the issue with the small company's HR, and it was put off and kicked down the road for over a month. Eventually, the setup gave her a serious RSI and she was no longer able to work. She got a high 5-digit settlement, and has not been able to work for the following 18 years. So her compensation for that loss was about $4000 a year. Golfclap.
This is a double-edged sword for you. First, the company has the privilege (in fact: the duty!) to protect itself from "nuisance" lawsuits like my friend's. It has every right to compel you to work in a way which is not un-ergonomic.
Second, you yourself can raise the issue as an ergonomic one. And your boss is not the boss of ergonomics. HR and their consultants are. The issue of ergonomics has become a great deal more visible in 18 years, and this will let you set two "bigs" against each other, step back and let them fight - it becomes your boss vs. HR, with you as "mere servant" of the company.
Or your ultimate nuke: ADA
If you are able, avail yourself disability protection laws. In the US, it is Federal and overrides state law. Such laws typically have two major prongs that we are most interested in:
- Companies must do what is easy ("readily achievable") to accommodate a disability.
- Companies don't have a right to probe about the nature of your disability.
An ADA lawsuit is the worst nightmare of any HR or legal department, as they are stupid, needless and easily avoided. As such, companies have a strong tendency to simply yield to any request for accommodation which is not unreasonable or burdensome, as you see with public acommodations tending to tolerate anything that remotely looks like a service animal.
Owing to the significant hazard of denying, or over-probing about the disability. The boss may not realize this, but HR does.
Ask HR for an accommodation
Your boss says that the rule is horizontal monitors, and if he gives you an exception, he'll have to give everyone one.
At my company, we have HR approved accommodations, for things like ergonomic chairs, mice, or keyboards. This can include any special equipment or exceptions to the rules needed to accommodate a disability or medical need. For things like an ergonomic mouse or changing the orientation of your monitor, this should require little more than just asking and giving a simple explanation. If they really push back, you could ask a doctor to provide a note stating you need the accommodation.
Using a horizontally oriented monitor to read extended amounts of text, my eyes quickly become strained, which causes me severe headaches and reduced productivity. I am requesting permission to orient one of my monitors vertically to accommodate this issue. If necessary, I can provide a note from a doctor showing my medical need of this accommodation. Thank you!
Something to that effect. Since this is such a tiny thing, with 0 cost to the company, and allows HR to avoid any possible legal liability, there is a strong chance they will approve this and back you up to your manager.
This avoids the "if I make an exception for you, I have to make one for everyone" argument, as you went through official channels. If a co-worker wants to re-orient his monitor and brings you up as an argument in favor of doing so, your manager can shut it down, noting that you have an exception from HR and he is not able to grant exceptions to this very important rule.
Moving forward, if your boss feels you have gone behind his back and holds this against you, be empathetic and stress this is due to a medical issue.
I understand the need for this rule, and I understand the chaos it would cause if everyone could change their monitors every which way. I really wish I could follow the rules on this one, but unfortunately my head just can't allow it. I wish I didn't get headaches.
Of course, don't lay the empathy on quite that hard, but you get the gist!
On my second day I rotated one of my monitors since I like keeping a text editor or terminal window there... My manager came over about an hour after I did this and said that's an "unsupported configuration" and I need to revert back.
Since then I occasionally tilt it when I really have a lot of work to get done, ... but every time it only lasts about an hour before he comes over and tells me to put it back.
How can I convince my manager to let me work this way permanently?
I'm not sure you can do that now.
You were told what he wanted on day two, and you continue to "occasionally tilt it when [you decide that you want to]" and he keeps a close enough eye on you that he has you correct it in a short period of time.
Are you acting in a way that would make him want to grant you special favors?
(Yes, we know it isn't special... but I'm talking about his perspective)
Be careful you aren't painting a bright red target on your back by your actions. Swim back to shore, get on the team bus, or whatever analogy works for you :–)
Dont'go immediately behind your boss's back to IT or HR
OK so the first thing I gleaned reading the masively upvoted answers here is that you should go and ask IT directly whether it's supported or go and ask HR for some discretionary pass.
You said you're on your second day. Second day! Are you really going to go over your boss's head on your second day?! No offence but this isn't good advice from others for a happy career in your new company.
I've been reading Crucial Conversations recently and it's a fascinating book. Everyone should read it! Anyhow it outlines skills and tactics to ensure successful dialog when engaging in "high stakes" or emotionally charged discussions. I think this is a crucial conversation you need to have with your boss!
Bascially - you need to arrange a chat with him (hopefully you'll have a one to one with him soon since you're new - can you wait until then?) and address it like this:
- Start with heart. Remember what you want in the conversation - to have your monitor in a preferred orientation. If the conversation digresses away, don't be tempted to lose your way. Keep this in your mind
- Find common ground with your boss. Something that you both want. Improved productivity and team happiness is usually a good common ground to find.
Try something like:
Billy, it's really important to me here that I can make a great impression and be as productive and happy at work as possible. One thing that would really help me work to my best would be to switch my monitor around so that it's vertical. I'm really used to this configuration, and I will get through my work considerably quicker.
I know you've previously said this isn't a supported configuration, but I'd really appreciate your help with working with the IT department to understand that policy and perhaps see whether it's because of any specific concerns they have that we could help address. It'd really make me happier at work to be able to use a configuration like this - who knows - it might also catch on and help others in the team too!
There - you've framed what you want in the scope of productivity and happiness (a shared goal) and asked for help to understand the concerns and overcome them. You two can work as a partnership against IT to improve the conditions for the team! (Disclaimer: I work in IT as a software engineer, I'm not hating on IT here). But the point is, you've accepted what he has said and asked for help to achieve a common goal.
You'll hopefully get a good outcome here. A better relationship with your boss, not ruffled feathers or done something awkward so early into a new job, and - more importantly - got your monitor vertically - yippee!
Follow up on it too:
Hi Billy. Did you hear back from IT about their concerns with my monitor and what we can do to help them alleviate that concern?
And if you still get pushed back:
Would you mind letting me know who you spoke to so that perhaps I can go and put their mind at ease myself?
By all means try more drastic measures later. But try some good healthy dialog first please!
Display Screen Equipment: it's complicated.
In many countries there is health and safety law regarding workers who use screens all day. Often it specifies something like a "comfortable" arrangement. There are two ways this can be interpreted:
1) There is an official comfortable arrangement and you must use that
2) Employees should be given flexibility in defining a comfortable arrangement for their own use
It sounds like you've ended up with a garbled version of (1), or pointless control freakery. What you may be able to do is get (2) to work in your favour by finding the monitor safety person in your organisation and getting them to write you some sort of excuse note. This conversation is best done in person so you don't have to leave a written record of disagreeing with your boss.
It is often easier to read text if it is in narrower columns rather than wider ones. When we come to the end of a long line, our eyes can find the beginning of the next line easier. That makes you not only more efficient, but happier. Both contribute to your productivity and creativity, and your manager should understand that.
If you cannot succeed in convincing your manager, then make the windows on your display narrower.
This advice comes from some excellent page design books in my library and online (Google is your friend). While this might be true for you and me, it's not the case for everyone (like your manager).
I wish I could mount one of my monitors vertically!
but every time it only lasts about an hour before he comes over and tells me to put it back.
You know that this has nothing to do with "unsupported configuration by IT"? Your manager is constantly monitoring what you do with remote screen access and it's annoying to him if you are working sideways. IT is only concerned in so far as they facilitate this constant supervision.
Obviously your manager has too much time on his hands and your corporate structures facilitate his continuous spying on everything you do on your computers.
Since the technical abilities are provided, it is likely happening with blessing from above. It may also very well be bordering on illegal.
So bringing the topic to higher up may end up causing a hell lot more of trouble than you would imagine, you just being worried about doing your work efficiently: you may be interfering with some semi-unofficial possibly illegal thorough observation of employees by people too stupid to rotate their screen display and entitled enough to tell you to rotate yours instead.
If you end up getting fired over this in a hire-at-will kind of country, don't be surprised.
From past experience, there are certain software applications used by IT that may not work in that configuration. I used to work in a help desk where management had access to record the screens during a help desk call or view it in real time for coaching purposes. If I rotated the screens, the screen would not be recorded or visible to management, and this raised an issue for management as they were unable to provide effect coaching and were unable to monitor my screen in real time.
Have you considered alternate solutions, such as getting a bigger monitor, or getting a stand that holds two monitors (one above the other)? I don't know if it's easy to request such things at your company, but if it is, then this will give both you and your boss what you want.
Also, I notice that many answerers are jumping to the conclusion that he's a control freak, but this may not be the case. Perhaps he was reprimanded in the past for having a vertical monitor, or saw someone else being reprimanded. Only you can be the judge of such things; I just ask you to consider his motives. And if you can't find any solution, I suggest you simply comply. You don't want to build yourself a reputation as someone who disobeys direct instructions over minor issues. It may make you a slower worker, but that's now your boss's responsibility.
Are you sure, working IT guys are the real reason? Your boss being a control freak has already been named as real reason and I totally agree, but would like to add another possibility I've seen:
I worked in an office which was well visible behind a glass front from the entrance hall, where customers were being entertained. We had really bad strict rules on how our workplace had to look: which chairs, clean desk (= not a single sheet of paper on the desk after clocking out), no plants,... Damn, even the valve of our basin next to the coffee machine was prescribed, though it broke every two weeks. I never tried to turn my monitor vertically, but you get the point.
These prescriptions weren´t made by our bosses, but by the architect of the building, who seemed to have some rights on the building's design, at least for some years after getting into service (and well, the building was new)
The problem resolved itself after some years. First people complained on dry eyes and we got the plants. Then people complained on hurting backs, and at least those with sick notes got fitting chairs. Then they put up frosted glass stickers because customers - these stupid - knocked at the glass front like it´s an aquarium.... and so on.
Even if this is your issue, you should ask yourself if you're willing to wait for years and years for it to resolve. If it is your issue, your boss doesn't seem to stand on your side, making things even harder to change.
If a manager treats employees as "Just a regular obedient mechanic" the employees should restrict themselves to that level of productivity. If your employer doesn't want your productivity, it is never worth it to be productive. Deliver the labor they want in exchange for your salary. That's the real business deal that you have signed when joining.
Give some time to yourself. If you want to do something interesting, do it in that time. Do it for yourself. Not for them.
You have given your employer a fair chance such that they can explore more productivity from you. They missed it, their loss. Nothing to worry from your side.