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I develop websites and run the online magazine for my company (just got hired three months ago), so I run not only development software and tech applications, but also Adobe software and other design applications all the time, usually multiple high-performance applications simultaneously. That means I need a very high-performance computer to work.

My company promised me a work computer, but it's been three months, and they still haven't approved me for one. I get it, a PC with 32 GB of RAM is not cheap. But in the meantime, they're making me use my personal Asus gaming laptop for work. I bought this baby for US$1300 a couple of years ago, and I really need it to last me for a while.

I sit at a long desk next to several other people, and I've seen many drinks spilled and things dropped already. That, and my company has already had one case of ransomware trying to take over our systems and that would've been very expensive to get rid of.

Is it reasonable to ask my employer for written confirmation that they'll pay for any damages to my personal laptop while using it for work? How should I go about asking? And what should I do if they say no?

UPDATE: ~15 Oct~ I took your advice and took a combination of actions. I first inquired about the progress of the request, and when there was zero progress being made I let my supervisor know all the possible risks the company has been taking with this unregulated BYOD policy. I then sent a calm, respectful email stating that in two weeks my personal device would become unavailable for use here unless fully insured by a written and agreed-upon BYOD policy (and I copied my boss's boss on the email). Go figure, after that it only took them about 6 days to provide me with a brand new XPS 8930 with more power than my laptop :) Thanks to everyone for the advice and helping me resolve this issue without it turning into a huge conflict!

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    "they're making me use my personal ASUS gaming laptop for work" Do you have a feeling for what would happen if you said "no"? – Philip Kendall Sep 11 at 12:18
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    Related question with some interesting answers and comments: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/69753/… – Charmander Sep 11 at 12:23
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    Curious if the software is yours as well. Do you own or pay for software subscriptions? – Steve Sep 11 at 12:43
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    Why did you bring your personal laptop to work? – sf02 Sep 11 at 15:54
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    Is your work environment otherwise fine, not toxic, considerate and fair? Did you really remind them regularly? If so, just stop bringing the notebook to work, no need to fake a damage. – eckes Sep 12 at 19:15

15 Answers 15

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Is it reasonable to ask my employer for written confirmation that they'll pay for any damages to my personal laptop while using it for work?

Yes this is a reasonable request. However, this doesn't address the real issue that your company is not providing you equipment for you to do your job. What would they do if your laptop "broke"?

How should I go about asking?

Send an email to your manager, asking them to either guarantee to replace or fix your laptop if it's damaged at work.

And what should I do if they say no?

This is the tricky part. You could say if they don't agree to cover it that you will stop using it for work, but are you really prepared to make good on that threat? Are you prepared to search for another gig?

If they say no, you definitely should ask: "What is the contingency plan should my laptop break?"

Learn a good lesson from this and don't bring in your own equipment into work in the future unless your employer guarantees to cover it while working.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mister Positive Sep 12 at 16:34
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    Re "You could say if they don't agree to cover it that you will stop using it for work", What if that is the starting position? "I know you've been counting on my personal laptop, but I won't be able to use it past date D because another member of my family will be needing it. Let's discuss..." How would that fly? – ikegami Sep 13 at 15:18
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Your employer sells what you do for a profit, and must provide you the tools to do your job.

I read in the comments that companies exist that allow BYOD, but my opinion is that often this happens because of cheapness and a lack of basic IT safety/security awareness. I'm not talking about external consultants, but employees, obviously.

BYOD is a huge liability for the company because:

  • the software licenses owned by the company are put on an item that is not company-owned
  • the access to company systems is made using an object (your personal laptop) that is not under company control and cannot be tested for compliance to the basic security measures, but must rely on you being careful, caring, etc.
  • company data is on an uncontrolled device used for personal matters; should a game played during the weekend trash your disk/memory/whatever all the company assets on that PC are lost (your item, your fault)
  • same as previous bullet should the PC be stolen during a trip: your item, your fault

Also note that bullet 3 and 4 outline huge liabilities for you too...

IMO there are very few corner cases where a BYOD policy for employees makes sense and these cases must have policies and rules clearly defined in advance.

To answer your question: without clear rules for BYOD, the reasonable thing to do, in my opinion, is to leave your personal laptop at home and ask for a company supplied one. Put a reasonable deadline, say something "from day X, my personal PC will not be available anymore" and stick to it. Then do your work with the tools provided. If they give you a cheap tool, they will also live with the consequences (delayed delivery & co).

They provide no laptop and push you to use yours? If at all possible brush up your CV and move on...

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    I would add that BYOD also presents an issue for the employee since lot of times employers to mitigate their risks would force you to install their software that would encrypt your device, capture the network traffic and/or keystrokes, report on your location, read your files, etc, so after such software is installed on your computer you probably should not use the device for sensitive information like banking, personal emails, shopping, etc. – AlexanderM Sep 11 at 19:01
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    Another issue with BYOD is - travel. Some countries, like the USA, can force you to open your laptop for "inspection" and can make copies of your drives. Any company data is now outside of your control. The solution : all work product is on virtual machines, back in the office, which you access remotely. This can also help with licensing ( X licenses, X virtual machines ). – Alan Campbell Sep 12 at 1:27
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    Another issue with BYOD (;p) but this gaming computer should be used quite often and if the company requires a 32GB RAM computer, then I assume the laptop uses ressource intensiv softwares. This can reduce drastically OP's laptop lifespan. Gaming laptops are not professionnal dedicated servers, they are not meant to be used 8 hours a day + the time at home, and to run resource consuming softwares all day. When the hardware will break, OP will need to buy another computer. And it will be few months before the computer would have broken in nominal use. – Kaël Sep 12 at 10:04
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    I find it funny that every second answer on this website tells to "brush up your CV and move on" :) – BЈовић Sep 12 at 13:20
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    The company is also on shaky ground legally if they ever want to get their data from your machine without your permission (job termination, etc.). Company data can easily be held hostage or destroyed by the computer owner. – spuck Sep 12 at 23:04
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Is it reasonable to ask my employer for written confirmation that they'll pay for any damages to my personal laptop while using it for work? How should I go about asking? And what should I do if they say no?

To directly answer your question no that wouldn't be unreasonable, however I think that it's burying the lede somewhat - they should be addressing the actual issue i.e. buying you a machine to work on. A half decent PC might seem expensive as a consumer because for the most part they're luxury items but for a business.. it's just not.

You aren't talking about a high-end CAD workstation or dedicated gaming rig here. At the end of the day any modern office desktop with a decent amount of RAM would be more than adequate and what's more it's a fundamental, essential resource for you to do your job. 3 months to "approve" the resource that your role fundamentally requires is, to put it mildy bollocks.

You're using your kit at the moment and that means they don't have to buy anything yet so they're freeloading as long as they can. If they're supposed to be getting you a machine I assume that they aren't running BYOD as an actual policy or anything so providing a computer for someone doing web development is just the cost of doing business.

Honestly in your place I'd be going in tomorrow without your laptop and explaining that it's developed a fault and is unavailable for work and then see how long it takes them to "approve" your work computer.

Yeah involves a bit of lying which isn't exactly the most ethical thing ever - but there's an argument that they started it.

Doing what you suggest is perhaps the more ethical approach.. and to a certain amount might force their hand, but only if it actually ends up costing them money. There's a good chance that they are going to keep spinning that roulette wheel and hoping it never lands.

You should be able to simply sit down with your manager and explain that you were happy to use your machine as a temporary measure while a proper solution was sorted but that you aren't prepared to do so indefinitely and establish a clear deadline by which they need to have a work machine sorted for you in the near future. If they are reasonable they will agree a timeframe and you can take it from there - and stick to your guns. If they aren't then you're going to have to take the call of whether this is a hill you want to die on. I wouldn't blame you if you started polishing the CV up and looking elsewhere. This is the approach I'd take personally - if they choose to be unreasonable over something like this then it's good that you can start looking for a suitable escape hatch sooner rather than later.

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    +1 for 'deadline'. – Jason Sep 12 at 2:05
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    Developed a fault: => A fault in the portability. I can't take it from home to work. – Martin York Sep 12 at 18:43
  • @MartinYork: Hey man. The last year I used my laptop it really was non-portable. – Joshua Sep 12 at 19:01
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    +1 for the comment that a high-end PC really, really is not expensive for a company that can apparently afford to have a handful of FT people on their payroll. If the cashflow / margin of the company is that bad, you have bigger issues than your laptop getting spilled on. – xLeitix Sep 13 at 7:37
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I get it, a PC with 32G of RAM is not cheap

This is wrong - it is cheap compared to the overall cost of employing you (I hope) - but it's not free.

They're making me use my personal ASUS gaming laptop for work

How did they learn about your gaming laptop? Honestly it sounds like you've brought it up and suggested you use it whilst waiting for a work machine to be provisioned.

You've made a mistake here. Guess what, now there's no urgency in provisioning said work machine, hence the absurd delay.

It's a convenient situation for the company - free is better than cheap - what incentive do they have to change it? It's probably not malicious, just them doing nothing and letting a convenient situation continue. They likely assume you're happy with the arrangement since you suggested it.

Is it reasonable to ask my employer for written confirmation that they'll pay for any damages to my personal laptop while using it for work?

No, the way out of a hole is not to keep digging, it's to find a ladder :-)

If you don't want to use your personal machine, just go and tell them that, today. Don't ask what to do with your own personal property, tell.

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There is a simple fix for this. Your laptop needs to 'break'. How it is 'broken' is up to you. Opening up the chassis and unplugging something may be sufficient.

If your work is valued, the process of obtaining a laptop for you will be expedited.

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    Lying to your employer is never a good idea. – Jay Sep 11 at 12:41
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    Ignoring the whole "lying is bad", if someone told me their laptop "just up and broke", my first guess would be they were doing what you're saying to do. Clever ideas are seldom clever or unique. – Julie in Austin Sep 11 at 12:45
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    Treating my property as I see fit is not out of line. If an employer is attempting to utilize your property for their gain, take your property out of the equation. Your laptop can be 'stolen' or whatever. It doesn't matter. Get your property out of the hands of the employer. – jasonmclose Sep 11 at 13:07
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    I'm not suggesting that your property isn't your property. I'm only suggesting that lying is bad, and a lot of these commonly suggested lies are very transparent. "I'm sorry, but I'm unable to keep using my personal device for work unless you promise, in writing, to cover any damages which happen during working hours." No lie needed. Nothing unreasonable. Just ... "promise to fix it or I can't keep bringing it." – Julie in Austin Sep 11 at 14:06
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    @JulieinAustin many managers will say "yes, it is covered, no problem" even in writing... BUT the day they have to pay, it is always "accounting says no" or "we have run out of budget" or some other BS - whatever they just don't pay... – Solar Mike Sep 13 at 11:37
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For various reasons, there is a rule of thumb that many companies prohibit the use of personal devices at work - even to forbidding the physical presence of the objects on the premises: laptops, memory devices, photo-audio-video recording devices etc. The main reason: protection of the intellectual property, safety etc.

Exceptions exist, of course, and the most common exception is the smartphone.

However, this makes it obvious that the company should not allow you to use your personal stuff for work. Why? Because you can claim that the work you do on your laptop belongs to you. And a court might even rule in your favor.

If you are not ready to change the company, then try to find a middle-ground. Some ideas:

  • ask them to pay rent;
  • ask them to reimburse the cost of the laptop in case that it breaks - even if it breaks when you are at home; the extended use ages the components faster;
  • as another colleague here suggested: "break it". Make a backup at home, and then clean reinstall the OS. Claim that you lost all the work done in the past XY days - since you last committed. The more, the better. You should do this unexpectedly. If you start other discussions first, and then you "break" the laptop, they will see it as a dis-honest game from your side.

All promises MUST be recorded in a WRITTEN form, possibly a supplement to the contract - for this, your local laws and regulations apply.


If the software on the laptop is yours, you might actually be breaking the license agreement of those pieces of software, and since it is your property, it is your fault.

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    I worked for a company 7 years ago which had embraced "bring your own device" because so many developers were ... spoiled rotten. At my current employer we are allowed to bring, and use, our own devices, but they have to have a "device manager" application installed. Which forces password changes every 3 months. And gives them the ability to erase or lock ... my own personal device. – Julie in Austin Sep 11 at 14:04
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    At my previous employer I was allowed to bring in personal devices, but the network did not accept any connection to them. At the current employer, personal laptops are completely forbidden on the premises - baggage check at the gate. The idea is that while some companies are relaxed, others try to protect themselves for various reasons. HAVING TO use a personal laptop to do the job, without being specified in the contract, and without compensation / insurance, is definitely not OK. – virolino Sep 11 at 14:08
  • @virolino If I had a bagagge check at the gate, I would find another job. About them not allowing personal laptops, it is their prerogative, but daily baggage checks are highly intrusive. And nothing prevents me putting one under a seat. Those baggage checks are just for show. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 14 at 3:55
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    @Rui If you work somewhere like a high-security military location, baggage and full-body scans on entry are perfectly commonplace. May not be the job for you, but it is part and parcel of many jobs. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 14 at 8:18
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Back here, daily personal belongings inspection is commonly relegated to lower rank jobs (cleaning/supermarket crews), and their legality when done by an employer is dubious at best. But I understand your framing. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 14 at 8:34
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As a business owner, I prefer to supply my employees with everything they will need to be productive and reasonably happy.

If I had an employee who had your concerns, I would appreciate them having a simple conversation about their issues with me.

Have you tried having a one on one with your manager / boss?

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More and more companies are practicing "Bring Your Own Device". If you are required to use your own device to do your job, you should ask for some assurance, in writing, that anything which happens at work to your device is covered.

The reasons for BYOD are varied -- a lot of developers prefer what they use at home to whatever their employer would purchase. If that's the case where you work, you may be stuck. But if they are just exploiting your "kindness", you need to put your foot down and ask for a work computer.

I'd start by asking the employer to buy you a device. It may not be as nice as your gaming laptop, but it would end this problem.

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    Companies that require BYOD are just being cheap. And the savings will not translate to better pay/benefits for their employees. I would avoid such companies. – sf02 Sep 11 at 15:56
  • Maybe. I worked one place where the devs all but threatened to quit if they couldn't use their personal laptops, which were often ... high performance video gaming laptops. At another place, employees were so particular with their monitors that they'd just go order them off Amazon. I've been using personally provided mice and keyboards for going over 20 years (almost 30 years for keyboards). – Julie in Austin Sep 11 at 17:02
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    @JulieinAustin I'm talking about hardware support only. All the company I worked for had 4h or 8h replacent for computers. Never heard of a non-business user with such a hardware support contract. Helpdesk is a different issue and a can of worms I'm happy to leave sealed shut... – Paolo Sep 12 at 19:22
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    @Paolo I wouldn't argue with you for people who aren't making much money (let's say not six figures), but as a well-paid senior dev working offsite, I was fine not having a company-provided machine. It means I never have to care about whether or not I'm using company resources for my own projects. And onsite same-day support for machines actually isn't crazy expensive sometimes; I've definitely had it in the past for home office gear. For example, back in the day it used to be a really good reason to buy refurbished Dell machines, since the contract stayed with the gear. – James Moore Sep 13 at 4:19
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    @Paolo Since MOD is covered by AppleCare and my own insurance (which does not limit coverage based on whether the device is used for work or personal stuff), yes, it has ample support and replacement coverage. Contrast this with the devices available at the office where I work, none of which have any kind of support at all. If they die, I try to fix them; if I can’t, too bad; we’ll have to buy another one. They’re also all cheap, slow Windows 7 machines (bleurgh), which I just cannot work on; that’s the main reason why I use my own device. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 14 at 8:23
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Hi Dave,

I no longer feel comfortable bringing my personal laptop to work, as that was not part of our original employment agreement. When can we meet to discuss options?

Best, Peter

At worst, that will provide written evidence that you were encouraged if not coerced to use your personal laptop for work. At best it will resolve your issue.

Personally, I'd avoid the insurance option, because there are plenty of unnecessary conflicts waiting for you:

  • Screen breaks at home - who pays?
  • You want to upgrade your personal laptop - do you need approval now?
  • Hard disk dies of old age - who pays, and who's liable for lost data?
  • Did you consider the programs and plugins you installed that offer a free license for personal use?
  • Who's liable if your personal data gets lost due to a work accident?

These questions and others may have obvious answers. The problem is that your obvious answer may be different from the company's obvious answer.

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  1. Upload the files to a company server for backup.
  2. Non-suspicious time later: Leave your laptop at home.
  3. Claim it has been stolen.
  4. Enjoy not having to work until they give you a computer.
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Some years ago, in a Company I worked for, something quite similar happened: they had no money (so they claimed) and therefore said they could not pay for people on night required availability. Luckily, even in this difficult financial situation the company always found the resources to provide the executives with luxury corporate cars. Many people complained, but this money for people working at night could never be found. Until... these colleagues stopped working at night for free and started making excuses ("I was not informed"... "I never got the phone call"... and similar); they were calm, because they knew nobody could touch them since their night required availability was never been written in their work contract, otherwise they would have been payed according to law. At the beginning this caused some problems, but manageable. One night a big issue with one of the main customer came up and nobody took care of it until the day after, when also a request for compensation came from that customer (I do not remember the exact amount of money, but it was a lot). That very same day night required availability was added to the contract and the company started to pay...

What I would like to tell you is that your company is happy with things the way they are now. Is it fair?No, but (from their point of view) who cares. Step up for yourself or nobody will. Inform your local trade union and talk with them; getting a new pc requires just a few days, if they did not do it by now they never will. I would start giving them a 3 days notice, saying that after that the company has 3 options:

  1. giving you a new pc (which you will set up during WORKING hours, not during your free time);
  2. paying you 20$/€ a day for the use of your pc as compensation costs (so that it would not be taxed);
  3. paying you every month for sitting at your desk waiting for tasks you can accomplish without a pc.
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My immediate concern would not be "what happens if my laptop gets broken at work" (they ewxpect you to claim on your own insurance just as if you'd spilled beer on it at home) but "what happens if I get a virus on my laptop whilst using it for my personal use and bring that virus into work and infect evertyone else on the network".

As a consultant, I have several million pounds worth of personal liability (and other) insurance when I go on-site. A company like this, that is penny-pinching, will not be one I'd trust.

Leave your laptop at home ("hey boss, I could 'work from home' from now on") and inform your boss circumstances have changed and that it cannot be brought into work any more.

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Is it reasonable to ask my employer for written confirmation that they'll pay for any damages to my personal laptop while using it for work?

Definetely yes.


How should I go about asking? And what should I do if they say no?

I would reccomend to write a polite, but pretty clear email, where you are asking for a company insurance for your own laptop. If you won't get any confirmation, let's say for a week, you can write a second email, where you will give a deadline for confirmation. If your boss won't accept/answer for any reason, just write third email with notification, that your own laptop will not be used in work anymore.


PS In the section above I have tried to answer your question. Now I want to give you some advices.

Never mix your work life with private life:

  1. if your employer cannot supply you with stuff you need for work, consider to find another employer
  2. once you bring your own stuff to work, it becomes a work stuff for your own money
  3. if you want so hard to "help" the company, first clarify "the rules" and only after do something. But I would not do it anyway

Now you are in the situation, where your employer is not motivated at all to buy stuff for you, since you have it already. While you are using your laptop at work, you are consuming it's resources like battery life and etc. And nobody will pay you for this. This is not acceptable. Next time you will be more experienced and won't work on your private laptop.

You may say: if I would not bring my own laptop, I would be forced to work on corporate one, but a bad one. That's true, and your performance would decrease. And even your boss could ask you why your performance is not very high. But in this case only one thing you should say, is that you have bad laptop and you have asked for a better one. This would motivate your boss to buy a good laptop for you.

  • In addition to this, send them a bill for a rental fee. – kmort Sep 14 at 18:57
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Is it reasonable to ask my employer for written confirmation that they'll pay for any damages to my personal laptop while using it for work?

Chances are this will not be possible. I know my employer has no provisions to insure personal items against damage, even if it's not forbidden to bring them to work.

The real solution is to stop using your personal laptop for work. No need to lie that it's broken or stolen. Inform them a couple of weeks in advance that you will stop using it at work and don't bring it to work anymore from then on. If you have to lie (some people simply cannot say "no" just like that), tell that a friend / relative needed to borrow it: you practically can't get caught lying in this case.

Also consider this: if a colleague tries to unplug your laptop's power cord and they get a shock while doing so, you may be fired for cause because you created an unsafe work environment resulting in an injury.

0

There are several corporate issues at play using own's computer, ranging from software licensing (OS, Office and productivity tools licensed for personal use, for instance) to software/security compliance, and not forgetting backups. In a big utility firm I worked in the past, the point of entry of a big malware attack were personal laptops infected at home.

Also if some accident happens at work, for instance, power problems frying your laptop, it will neither be paid, nor their insurance will cover it.

I would advise stop bringing it to work, and not opening that door in future jobs.

There is also another added factor, that is cost. I went that road in the past a couple of times, and got ruined batteries, had to replace chargers and a broken computer after roughly 2-2.5 years, which was then replaced by a company issued one, which obviously had to surrender when I left. For avoiding having such costs, the better option is not to bring personal equipment to work. And I am not mentioning loss/theft. It also opens the door for colleagues asking for it, which creates a dilemma between lending them a machine with my personal data or saying no. (eg a possible scenario: I am having a presentation tomorrow, and yours is the best suited laptop. I just need it a couple of hours.).

I would simply stop bringing it. There are a range of excuses, from "it is ruining my back carrying it everyday around" to "wifey needs it", or quite common "keyboard needs repairs, they will take at least 1 month".

TLDR Carrying around your personal computer involves added costs and complications. Make it the exception and not the rule using it at work. The work global blanket insurance policy is for their equipments, and even if they would pay it, it does not cover depreciation/wear and tear.

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