I work in software engineering for my current job. This means that my primary tools are my computer and the accessories that go with it (keyboard, mouse, etc.).

Throughout my career I have simply used the work-provided kit and made do. However, I'm curious if it is appropriate for me to ask for non-standard kit so I can do my job better.

If so, what should I use to help justify the expenditure? What should I really be considerate of?

The things I can think of are making sure that we consider what happens if everyone tries to ask for a $100 keyboard or whatever, and I need to justify the cost relative to my job.

  • 3
    I have always taken in my preferred mouse and sometimes keyboards.
    – Pepone
    Jun 17, 2014 at 14:44
  • It depends, if you spend a lot time opening and closing windows because you need to have 10 applications open at the same time , a second monitor would help so you could justify that. If your Pc is slow then you can justify adding some more memory or need a better CPU or even getting a new PC altogether. Keyboards and mice don't cost much so you could ask the manager if its ok to get them. $100 keyboards are usually what gamers buy so i don't think you can justify that.
    – Tasos
    Jun 17, 2014 at 18:38
  • I've always brought my own keyboard and mouse... when I was a commis chef I had my own knives. My view (read: unprofessional opinion) is while the basics should be catered for (haha) by your employer, something more advanced should be provided by yourself. Of course whether or not your company would be willing to help pay for knives / keyboard can only be learned by asking them. It would be reasonable to say I appreciate that X is provided for me, but to help me be more productive I'd like Y because Z. Would you be willing to help with the cost?
    – nurgle
    Jun 20, 2014 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


This is somewhat variable depending on the company and also depending on the size of the budget unit. Decisions in a company are often made by the budget unit (usually a department sometimes a division), although computer equipment may be sourced by IT.

In all honesty, if you are a regular individual contributor - don't overthink it. If there is something that would honestly help you do your job better and/or with less risk of long term damage to your body - it's better to ask than to try to figure out whether you will get a yes. You won't have all the answers. Just make sure you really can be more productive and/or helped by the equipment. There's a lot of gimmicks out there, and figure you can't ask for everything - so start with the high priority stuff.

From the Manager Perspective

Here's the questions that the approver may have to answer:

  • Would it be crazy to buy one for everyone? The sanity check is both the multipler (we have 100 people, this costs and extra $100, so we are spending $10,000 - wait! that's a drop in the bucket compared to the sum of everyone's salaries!). But it's also other conditions - for example - 2 monitors in a lab with limited desk space, or 2 monitors in a building with horrible electric (you will keep flipping the circuit breaker). A smart manager only has to live through a snafu like this once before they start considering this picture.

  • Are you different? For example, if you are the GUI guy, getting you a better monitor makes sense, and doesn't mean that they have to buy everyone one.

  • Is there a supplier relationship? Often a big company buys from a single producer - so you can have any HP machine, or Dell monitor, but you can't have anything from Toshiba.

  • How limited is IT? If this will cause endless woe with the IT department, it's not worth it.

  • Is this is a medical condition? Medical conditions trump a lot of things, and also give the manager a bigger point of power if demanding a change in rules.

  • What does the budget look like this year? Sometimes at the end of the year, or the beginning of the year is the best time for making requests. End of the fiscal year is great if there is slack in the budget, then the boss wants to burn through it (you may even hear the "let me know if you need anything" request about this time). Beginning is great if you typically run at or over budget, since the new budget may mean a new supply order at the start of the year.

  • How old is your current equipment? Often you can get a change in equipment when yours is end of life, but it's a major pain to exchange during the equipment's lifetime.

  • Can there be a switch - the end of life limits are less important if you can find a trade in the company (I did this when I realized my laptop was too heavy and too powerful - I had a developer who wanted the power, and didn't need to transport it - we switched).

Knowing some of these may help you negotiate the getting what you want process... but don't overthink it. Just know the price, know the power of what you want, and be ready to articulate it. If the boss seems unwilling, ask why.

  • 9
    100 x 100 = 10,000, did you mean 10 people perhaps? Either way, could use an edit.
    – jmac
    Jun 17, 2014 at 13:52
  • 1
    extra monitors can often be scrounged. Since most computers these days will drive more than one out of the box there's no extra cost there, and a an old monitor as the second one is better than no second monitor at all. It's worth talking to IT and seeing what they have on hand. You may find that "awful, heavy" $100 keyboard sitting on a shelf...
    – Móż
    Jun 17, 2014 at 23:00

No harm in asking, however there is no guarantee you will get it.

I work as IT Support and do supply stuff when needed (e.g. a screen for notebook users, mouse, keyboard, usb hub) but I pick the hardware.

Also always comply if it's something like a wrist protector or mouse pad.

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