My boss has just announced that we will be required to use only company-issued computers/software and peripherals (no more BYOD, personal mice, etc). I know that this change will make my work a lot harder; I was relying on tools I will no longer have access to, and I will need frequent breaks without my ergonomic mouse.

Would it be unprofessional to write up an estimate of how set back I'll be, like "I'll need to take a 5-minute break from mousing every 10 minutes" and "Since my preferred text editor won't be available, you should expect coding projects to take twice as long", and send it to him?

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    There is too much missing here, what is the reason behind this ban?
    – Kilisi
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 4:35
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    Lacking information - we need a country tag and understanding of why the change happened. Country is relevant for things like Health and Safety regulations and DSE assessments that are mandatory in the UK for example, that would answer your question about the mouse. If there is a reason for the change as well...maybe regulatory...even if this means using a less safe environment like windows XP, if this is brought as a multistep change into a uniform place of work then this changes would make more sense. Please edit question to provide more insight. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 11:27
  • What's your employer/boss's side to this story? Why are the changes being made? What's the bigger picture strategy, and what are the options/plans for upgrading or changing tools in the future? Without that info, it's hard to tell if you're the victim of incompetence, or just a fussy prima-donna.
    – dwizum
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 17:43
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    By the way, your favourite text editor does not make you twice as productive. You may have meant it as hyperbole, but actually saying things like that to your boss would damage your credibility. Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 17:01

7 Answers 7


I wouldn't bother telling your boss anything. Clearly your boss has issues if he is going to micromanage you and your coworkers down to what type of mouse and keyboard you are allowed to use for your work. That and the fact that you are now forced to use a product whose end of life was 5 years ago should be incentive enough to clean up your resume and start looking for a better opportunity. In the meantime, behave as professional as possible until you have accepted a written offer and submitted your resignation.

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    I upvoted this one because its the tactful version of my answer. This manager is a massive fool that doesnt even have the common sense to manage a McDonald's kid's play area. This boss deserves zero respect and I would start looking for a new job immediately
    – Smitty
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 21:16
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    I love that in this site almost everything is a reason to quit the job, in this case, but yeah, in this case doesn't hurt start checking other places Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 21:40
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    @OmarMartinez People who are working in non-toxic places don't have anything to ask about here. :D
    – user1602
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 8:37
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    Disallowing to bring private USB devices like a mouse or a keyboard is a common security practice in companies as every USB device could be a trojan.
    – user70925
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:30
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    -1 I think you are jumping to conclusions here. We don't know the reasons for the change, we don't know if there is a plan of upgrading current hardware and software in the company and becoming a more welcoming place for starting developers that do not have their own devices. The advice of brushing up the CV and being ready is good, but "attacking" the company without further information is a bit of jumping the gun in my opinion Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 11:31

Whether your boss is a control freak or is responding to security issues that can now occur with USB devices I'm not able to say.
(I've read that finance sector companies are cracking down because of USB vulnerabilities)

Either way...

Would it be unprofessional to write up an estimate of how set back I'll be, like [reason #1] and [reason #2], and send it to him?

That will sound unprofessional to him.
I expect he will be hearing that from a lot of people already, so you telling him won't help... it'll likely just annoy him.

Instead you could address the tangible (and actionable) item that your hand cramps after using a 'regular' mouse for a short period:

(boss name)
Just wanted you to be aware that I have a health issue with the 'regular Dell mouse' that I will have to use going forward (that's why I brought in my own vertical mouse in the past).
What is the process to get access to something which I can use without pain?
Will I need a doctor's note to document this? Can I continue to bring in and use my own mouse until something is available from the company?

In the mean time you can mouse with your other hand.
I do that - it feels weird for a while but I got used to it so I expect you can also.

Leave off on the whining about inferior equipment for a couple weeks, maybe they have ordered new machines.

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    Having a letter from your doctor that says an alternate input device (vertical mouse vs. $2 Dell cheap-o) is necessary to mitigate RSI issues should be helpful. Don't even ask the boss if you need one - just get it from your doctor and present it. If you have an actual RSI diagnosis, a case can be made that a vertical mouse would be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
    – alroc
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 2:24
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    If the reason is security they need to rethink about using WinXP. Also, Core Duo with much less processing power will probably decrease productivity, not to say how many people will quit (according first answer).
    – coder4fun
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 2:48
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    +1 admitting not all the data we have and possibility of understanding that maybe the boss knows why he is imposing this rules but admitting more information is required. Even with this restrictions you have given good advice regarding the use of the special mouse. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 11:32

You haven't given a reason for the ban, at the risk of being unpopular, unlike others I'm going to assume there is a legitimate reason for it. I have seen valid reasons why this would happen ranging from theft of personal equipment to security breaches.

You can ask for an exemption, stating productivity and ergonomics as the reasons, but do it politely and professionally. Expect to be turned down though as exceptions can't always be made for many reasons. You should also formulate a 'plan B' based on the assumption that you will get turned down. This means you have options and alternative solutions on the table rather than just problems.

Would it be unprofessional to write up an estimate of how set back I'll be... etc,.

Yes, because these are just whiny excuses, twice as long is a load of rubbish, and we both know it, you could make a linux VM if you really needed to. Analyse what you're saying and how you're saying it, don't exaggerate out of pique, and don't go into so much detail in writing. The ergonomics regarding a cramped hand should be more of a focus if any. This is a concrete physical issue which should be catered to. I would just ignore this and bring in my mouse and deal with it when it arises.

The professional way to deal with things is to solve problems or focus on solutions that can be achieved within company policy frameworks. You can be a prima donna throwing a tantrum, or you can be the guy who steps up with solutions.

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    "you could make a linux VM if you really needed to" There is no way the machine being given to OP is going to be able to handle a modern Linux distro in a VM. You are also rather quick to suggest that OP is simply being whiny and making excuses; Switching OS often means switching entire toolsets and workflows. Switching these out does indeed impact performance and learning new ones does indeed take time. If you used MS Office all your life and were forced to switch to LaTeX or even LibreOffice, your performance would initially suffer too. That's a valid concern, not prima donna behaviour. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:37
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    @520 just sounds like you're whining as well, no offense
    – Kilisi
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:47
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    Or someone who has actually done development work on multiple environments and knows the difficulties of switching from one to the other. Seriously, are you just going to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of 'whining'? Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:52
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    @520 yep, presenting problems without solutions is not my style. I solve problems for a living in multiple fields.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:55
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    Well the solution to this problem would probably start with giving developers tools that are actually fit for purpose; Windows XP has been unsupported for 5 years now (not even security updates are made for it anymore) and even Microsoft's own dev tools no longer support it. And that ancient Core 2 Duo isn't going to be up to the task of running anything more recent without serious lag, which again affects productivity. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 11:01

You may write viable reasons:
(present objective calculations)

  • Slower equipment will increase processing, loading and compiling times

  • Change of programming environment might require time to adapt during which productivity may fall

  • You have a medical condition
    (proven by paperwork from a doctor) and require special equipment or treatment

  • security restrictions hinder or slow down work processes
    (be sure that your arguments are objectively quantyfiable and not just personal preference / habit)

Invalid reasons are:

  • loss of your preferred editor or operating system

  • preference to use your own device

  • your disapproval of the decisions

  • The understandable but unprofessional expression of nuissance from these decisions

Security restrictions on work systems, including loss of internet, prohibition of personal devices and image capturing equipment, deactivation of USB ports, requirements to use exclusively certain software or hardware etc. are very common and nothing outrageous.

Be sure not to "whine" but present irrefutable facts if you hope for any understanding or change in policy.

  • I will note that the use of Windows XP IS a valid concern; That OS hasn't received security updates (with the exception of EternalBlue) for 5 years now. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 15:26
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    Why do you say that "loss of your preferred editor or operating system" is invalid? I understand that it is a common requirement to enforce and that it isn't an outrageous requirement. But: saying "This requirement to use X will permanently degrade performance." seems like a reasonable thing to bring up.
    – Odalrick
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 15:50
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    @Odalrick "loss of preferred tools" is not the same as "using tool x degrades performance".(if it's only your performance = invalid, adapt-we all do constantly; if it is in general, present proof). Unfortunately, personal preferences are not a professional argument for a tool. Disregarding any advantages said personal preference may have,it is also invalid if the employer decided against it. If you want your personal preference to become part of the pipeline you need to present objective reasons and seek approval.Even with good reasons an employer may decide against it for a myriad of reasons. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 17:02
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    @520 agreed, unless OP will be using an island system without internet connection, potentially only intranet. I work like that all the time, granted on centOS but nevermind... Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 17:06
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    @DigitalBlade969 Actually it is but I get it; you have problems with the way it is presented rather than the actual content. I was confused because your post seems to say facts are more important than presentation. You appear to be saying "losing editor X" is never valid, when you actually mean "I prefer X" is ineffective.
    – Odalrick
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 8:03

Would it be unprofessional to write up an estimate of how set back I'll be, like "I'll need to take a 5-minute break from mousing every 10 minutes" and "Since my preferred text editor won't be available, you should expect coding projects to take twice as long", and send it to him?

That's very unprofessional, and the latter paints you as someone who is either unwilling, or unable to learn something new.

First, your mouse. If you have a medical condition which prevents you from working with a regular mouse, you should not bring your own. You should follow company procedures to help you out. The may have a stash of mice at your company's facilities desk. They may just order one for you. Or they may send you to the company doctor to see what else needs to be done (different chair, different desk, different posture, etc). Talk to your manager about this in a professional way, don't go blazing in with "I need a 5 minute break every 10 minutes". In many countries, companies are required to provide their employees with proper equipment if there is a medical need for it.

But the second thing, that's just whining. Sure, it may take some time to get used to a different editor, different OS and different tools, but you're a professional. You should be able to learn new tricks, even if you don't like them. And it also gives the impression that the thing about the mouse is whining instead of a need.

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    Quick note: Windows XP is now a serious security liability; It hasn't has any security updates for 5 years (EternalBlue excluded) Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 11:26

Let your boss deal with the consequences of his actions.

You could write up a letter explaining, but, as others have already mentioned, it'll probably not be of any use and may come across as a bit complainy.

Use whatever equipment he says you must. If it's an old dinosaur, so be it. And then when he comes to you and asks why things are taking so long, then you say that your pc is slower and things take longer. Let him feel the pain of his own actions, and then he will suddenly care about the hardware.


YES, but you have to be prepared for the consequences. :(

Wow, this is a pretty crazy thing to do and I have never seen such onerous restrictions. While most companies require using the company PC, it's at least decent. Restricting personal peripherals is something I don't think I've even heard of, even in very security conscious environments.

Anyway, you can explain, in detail, why specific personal peripherals improve productivity and why, consequently, removing them will hurt productivity.

Developers love their Macro Keyboards. Even just 2/3 good macros on one keypress saves minutes to hours over time. Devs also love their keyboards and become accustomed to one of 10+ specific click types. Certain mice help with repetitive stress. All sorts of reasons.

You can collectively come up with reasons withing your group.

Now, to prepare for the consequences...

Worse case, Boss does not relent but you are expected to maintain productivity. This puts everyone in a difficult position because with such a peculiar restriction, I doubt you'd get Boss to understand the restrictions are a significant contributing factor.

You can offer to do a trial of using personal devices again, but have a backup plan if that doesn't work, up to seeking new employ.

From the comments: If security is the concern, you can propose the company source the peripherals themselves and you share the cost. This way, you get the peripheral you need and they are responsible for securing it. And you get to keep you personal device at home.

  • Restricting personal peripherals is pretty recent according to what I've seen (within the last 12 months) can't say if it will gain momentum or not. Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 21:49
  • @J.ChrisCompton Scary, and strange given how much effort Microsoft/Apple and such are putting into supporting BYOD scenarios.
    – DTRT
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 21:52
  • Yes. Remember that a USB device carries it's own program that tells the computer how to interface with it. That's how viruses and trojans are delivered by them. I'm told that's why "real Linux people" always carry a wired keyboard instead of a USB keyboard - because you have to be at a certain point above the metal before a USB keyboard (or worse a blue-tooth one) will work. Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 22:00
  • @J.ChrisCompton "a wired keyboard instead of a USB keyboard" I'm not sure which category to put that statement into, but I'm pretty sure USB is predominantly a wired bus. Did you by chance mean a PS/2 keyboard? With less and less systems offering 1987-style PS/2 (mini-DIN) ports at all, that's becoming ever less viable even as a backup.
    – user
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 20:06
  • @aCVn I suppose it was PS/2. I was learning Linux from a purist - who ironically at that point was working solely in AWS. He was deep in the weeds explaining exactly what Linus T. writes and made the comment that if you have an issue building up the stack (from bare metal) you have to get to a certain point before USB will work. Although I've made a very good living from the Windows stack over the years it was fascinating (I could follow it because, although I had no Linux experience, I have a comp sci degree). Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 20:53

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