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I've composed a message for my boss, and I will send it later today. But I would like to seek help or suggestions first.

For context:

  1. My work as a programmer is remote. The company is based in the US, and I'm here somewhere in southeast Asia.
  2. I've been working at the company for the past 3 months now.
  3. I reckon I have a good image so far, and good standing.
  4. For example, the last project I had, earned quite some praises from the bosses, and because of that, that project/client is coming back soon to the company to sign another contract.
  5. And another one is my current project for a client is going good so far, and in fact the client just renewed their contract with my company for another month (staff augmentation).
  6. I just waited for this #5 as an opportunity to ask.
  7. I already asked one colleague if he has asked for a machine before. He said he was informed that the company does not provide a machine during his interview.
  8. I have a follow-up question, that if they indeed don't provide a machine, at least a salary-loan, 0% interest, payable in 12 months would be a big help.

Here are my two messages for my boss:

Hey John! Good morning! Are you, by any chance, free for a quick chat now or later? Just wanna ask something.

So... I know I haven't contributed any significant value to the company yet. But lately I've been thinking to upgrade my machine. I've never asked this question before, and could be too much to ask, but does <company_name> provide a machine? I think probably no, and if no, do you think the company could help me, at least, with purcashing a Macbook pro 32GB RAM, 13"? Like for example, <company_name> can let me have a "salary loan", and make it payable for, say 12 months with 0% interest? This upgrade will certainly be a big help to my everyday tasks, and will make me even more productive. Thank you so much! Of course I will definitely understand if we have no privilege like that salary loan thing.

Thanks John!


Do I have a chance to get any of the favors that I ask? Is there something I can mention too or change?

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    "My work as a programmer is remote. The company is based in the US, and I'm here somewhere in SEA." Are you an actual employee of this company? And what's "SEA"? Sep 22 '20 at 17:55
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    What has changed in the last 3 months that you now need the company to provide you with a new computer?
    – sf02
    Sep 22 '20 at 17:56
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    Sorry for the abbrev. It means South East Asia. Yes, I am an "employee" I guess, I mean they describe us all as "employees". BUT in my contract - I am a mere "contractor". Sep 22 '20 at 17:57
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    Well, as you are a contractor you don't have a salary, you issue invoices that get paid, right? So you can't get a salary loan as that will likely get hella complicated. Why not just take the loan yourself for the laptop? Sep 22 '20 at 17:59
  • @sf02 Thank you for that! I forgot to discuss that in my message. I should add that. Well "my personal macbook 2015 has been so slow and recently affected my productivity, although I was able to somehow fix it by cleaning its internal components". Sep 22 '20 at 17:59
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It's still a little hazy to me if you are an employee or a contractor from your question and comments (possibly because the company is trying to have it both ways).

It is customary for employees to be provided equipment, but for contractors to provide their own equipment. So your approach to the request might differ based on which, in actuality, you are.

You can ask in either case (though starting the request out with "I know I haven't contributed any significant value to the company yet" is terrible judgement), but it's much more likely to be granted if you're an employee - as a contractor, the answer is "no you're supposed to buy one."

As an employee, saying "My work goes more slowly than it could because of my older laptop, if I could get a 32GB modern Macbook it would improve my speed doing X by a good margin" is a fine request.

As a contractor, you have to consider whether you're just admitting you're not providing good quality for your money. Some of this has to do with what job protections you have, if you are "a contractor but qualify as an employee in your country" or whatnot then they may need to treat you more like an employee and less like a disposable resource, but that's country and contract specific.

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  • Good answer, though I would add that in most contractor-positions, especially in IT, the contractee is expected to have their own equipment.. If I would hire a contractee for lets say remote DBA, I would not expect him to ask me for a mouse/keyboard/laptop/desk/chair.. If he asks anyway - I would perceive him as incompetent..
    – iLuvLogix
    Sep 24 '20 at 9:58
  • @iLuvLogix In my experience as a contractor at a large company, I was only allowed to use corporate loaded laptops. They would not allow any non-corporate systems to connect to their internal systems. That's basic IT security. So I'd question the competence of any company that just lets random computers connect to their systems.
    – Peter M
    Sep 25 '20 at 18:37
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I think that's the wrong way to ask. Companies have policies on things like this because they need to be fair to all their employees and contractors. They are unlikely to make exceptions just because you asked. If other people on the same contract were given computers you should have one too. If not, you're basically asking for a pay rise.

Whether or not they provide equipment should be in your contract. If not, you can ask for clarification on company policy.

So instead of:

do you think the company could help me, at least, with purchasing a Macbook pro

You should be asking:

What is company policy on providing IT equipment for people on {my contract}? Do you provide any help when buying a new laptop?

At the same time, you should clarify the company's rules on connecting private equipment to the company network, and storing company information on your computer. Companies that supply their own equipment often do it so they can ensure that all computers have anti-virus and disk encryption. So if you have to provide your own computer, there may be standards you need to follow.

Unfortunately, this may mean that you're effectively paid less than you thought. At least you can plan for it, once you know.

The exception to this would be if your situation is unusual and unexpected: such as having your computer stolen and a religious prohibition on borrowing money, or local banking rules that make it much harder than in the US. Then you could ask for an exception to the usual policy and a kind employer might help you out.

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For the life of me I can't figure out what your working arrangement so I will make an assumption that you are a self-employed contractor without having any job-protection mechanism that would normally come with proper employment.

Do I have a chance to get any of the favors that I ask? Is there something I can mention too or change?

There is always a chance, but it certainly will help for you to understand how will the request look from the other end.

Whether they will get the laptop on credit or not, they are liable for the whole thing, so you are essentially asking them to trust you to repay the entire sum back, while having no realistic way to reclaim the money or laptop if you decide to be a no-shot one day after your next paycheck (chasing this money would cost multiple times as much as the laptop, almost no company will do that).

On top of that repaying this laptop will take four times as long as you've been with the company, and people in this industry change jobs oh so often - and based on your previous questions on this site you are no exception from that. And then there is the question of why won't you just buy that machine yourself since, as per your own words, it would greatly improve your productivity.

Those are the concerns you will have to address, and honestly, most of them cannot be resolved in a way that's actually convincing. You have very short tenure with the company, your relation is not that of a proper employee, and the only reason you are asking instead of taking the laptop on the loan yourself is to save on having to pay interest on the purchase (and that's not taking a more sinister options into account). While you can ask, it may hurt your relations and image with your boss, as this may come across as unprofessional/greedy of an ask given all of the above.

Now whether risking your relations, contract and professional image is worth more than interest you would have to pay on your shiny new laptop you will have to decide for yourself.

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Do I have a chance to get any of the favors that I ask?

If the business leaders believe your work requires them to provide you with a machine then they may. But it sounds like you're already doing the work with your existing equipment. If there was some aspect of the job that requires a better/different machine to be done well then that would be a chance for you to get an upgrade. In that case, they might reconsider giving you something. In my experience working as a contractor for international companies, the company is usually the first to suggest giving you equipment not the other way around. So the fact they haven't offered you anything in 3 months says they don't think you need it.

at least a salary-loan, 0% interest, payable in 12 months would be a big help.

No. They aren't going to approve that because it is more risky for them then if they loaned you equipment and they already said they won't do that.

Is there something I can mention too or change?

Maybe if you can show that better equipment will allow you to provide better service to their client(s). You would need to show numbers from studies or something. I still wouldn't ask for a loan.

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