45

My employer provides me with a decent Windows desktop machine to perform my Software Development tasks. However, for a specific project I'm working on, a Mac would be better suited, providing benefits for both my employer and me (and we both agree on this).

They can't buy a Mac for me now, but they suggested me to use my personal MacBook.

What kind of compensation should I request from them in order to bring my laptop everyday? Even though they will probably expect me to bring it "for free".

There are several things to consider such as the risk of losing it, wear and tear, the burden of having to bring it everyday, etc.

It's important to note I'm excluding things like security, responsibilities boundaries, and other policy-related considerations from this question on purpose, since my question targets compensation specifically.

This situation is in the UK, if that changes anything.

UPDATE: Please, note that I'm not asking for advice about if I should do this or not. I'm asking this question because BYOD is quite a common practice nowadays in Software Development, and I think if you are bringing your personal computer, you should not do it for free.

UPDATE 2: I want to clarify I haven't agreed to anything with my employer. We agree a Mac would be better, and they suggested me to use my MacBook, but I haven't said yes. My apologies if my original question was not clear enough. I appreciate the amount of answers provided with different opinions.

  • 9
    It's very doubtful a mac is somehow better for your software development over a windows pc (or a linux pc for the matter), unless you are developing native mac applications. If that were the case, you'd likely already have a Mac workstation. So, it's not reasonable to expect your employer to purchase your a Mac workstation simply because you prefer it, especially after they've already provided you with adequate equipment. – SnakeDoc Jun 14 '16 at 20:50
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    Guys, I truly appreciate your comments, but I think we are missing the point of the question in here. I'm happy to provide more clarifications if needed, though. – Charmander Jun 14 '16 at 20:51
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    It's not reasonable to expect them to buy a mac in the first place. You convinced your manager that a mac is better (and you're likely wrong, but preferences prevail) So it's not reasonable to expect them to compensate you for you bringing in your mac. If you decided you prefer to use the mac, it's going to be on you since they have already provided adequate tooling for the job you were hired for. Perhaps when they go to refresh all of their workstations, you make the case for a mac then. Until then, bring your own or don't use it - but either way, you're not getting paid for bringing it in. – SnakeDoc Jun 14 '16 at 20:53
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    FWIW my experience with MacBooks says that they last approximately one year when used the way you describe. So that's the basis I would use for calculating compensation for wear. – kasperd Jun 14 '16 at 22:07
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    You may be able to get it as a deductible on your income tax. Jurisdictions may vary, though – HorusKol Jun 14 '16 at 22:38

14 Answers 14

110

If the company can't spend $2000 for a computer that they agree is the right tool for your job, what makes you think they'll be willing to compensate you for using your own computer to do that same job?

I suggest that you not use your personal computer for this. It's the company's responsibility to provide the tools for you to effectively perform your job. They even agree that a Mac would be a better tool for you to use.

Personally, I'd keep using the Windows computer and when tasks take an extra 20% longer to complete, remind them of the overall cost savings that would be realized by purchasing the agreed-upon tool.

If you must provide your own computer, purchase a new one and use it exclusively for the job, then lease it to the company for a fixed rate. Leave it at the office, but with something affixed to it that makes it clear that it's not company property. It'll be worthwhile to draft a formal agreement and have an attorney give it a look for you.

I know you said you're excluding all other factors but they are very important and need to be considered. Mixing personal and "for your employer" stuff on the same computer is risky for both you and the company.

Questions to ask:

  • If you put this personal computer on the corporate network, is that computer required to adhere to all company policies including network monitoring, antivirus software, etc.
  • Is the company going to require you to allow them to scan your computer for company IP?
  • When you leave the company, what happens with the corporate assets that are on it?
  • What ownership can the company claim over anything on the computer once you start doing work for them on it? Including your personal data, IP you've created, etc.
29

I'm asking this question because BYOD is quite a common practice nowadays in Software Development, and I think if you are bringing your personal computer, you should not do it for free.

This part I can answer: where BYOD policies exist, the employee is not customarily compensated for providing an existing device they have lying around. That absence of payment is the "YO" in "BYOD" ;-) Employers aren't interested in hiring equipment from their employees, they're only interested in permitting employees equipment to be used.

If the BYOD policy is instead of the company providing computers, so that your only work machine is the one you buy, then sure, the company might provide money for that. If not then they'll compare unfavourably with a competitor that doesn't make you drop a couple of grand on kit your first day of work. But that's not the same as renting kit from you, and I don't think it's very common, so I doubt your employer will see temporary use of your Mac in this light.

Also don't be fooled by (especially) small companies that don't actually have a formal BYOD policy, and they do provide you a machine, but they don't particularly notice or care if you sign your own devices into a work network. That's not "proper" BYOD, you shouldn't take it as evidence of "BYOD being common", and you can be sure the employees aren't being paid extra when they do it

Provided you have a decent relationship with your boss there's no harm in asking, I suppose, but do beware that by saying you're willing to do it in return for some compensation, you close down your option to say that it's not possible for you to do it at all.

Since you think you should not do this for free I think you should brace yourself for the likelihood that you'll either be doing it for free or you won't be doing it at all. Either do it as a matter of good will, or else prepare an explanation that it's just not convenient for you to re-purpose your own device for work use -- the hassle and risk of bringing it to work are too high for you.

If you were going to press for "compensation", I would restrict it to your actual costs. You might perhaps say that if you're bringing it to work then you need it to be covered for loss or accidental damage while at work or en route, and if left at the office overnight. If the company doesn't have budget to buy you a machine to work on then I suppose it doesn't have budget to self-insure this. Personal properly likely isn't covered on their existing office policy, but they could purchase a separate policy for you.

Be prepared in the UK that this might not be an allowable expense and if not then you'd need the company to agree to pay income tax and NICs on it in addition to the basic cost.

  • 3
    This is the best answer - as OP will look like a jerk for following any of the other answers' advice. OP has pretty much already agreed to use the laptop. – Aaron Hall Jun 14 '16 at 15:35
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    Agreed, this answer actually covers the OP's question and doesn't simply scold him. – AndreiROM Jun 14 '16 at 17:43
  • I can't speak to the taxes portion but the rest is spot on. The only BYOD policies that I have seen were "$0 for your existing machine or $xxxx for a new machine" No other monitory compensation provided and damages usually had something spelled out, but it might me "you get nothing". Remember your bringing your device. It's not theirs. And that's one of the benefits. To some that's a huge benefit, to others not so much. – coteyr Jun 14 '16 at 19:17
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    @coteyr: yeah, most people are happy to wear their own clothes to work in preference to a company uniform, but that doesn't necessarily transfer to a willingness to provide other essentials at work ;-) As a rough rule of thumb, the more control the company asserts over the device the less of a benefit it is to the employee to have the privilege of paying for it. – Steve Jessop Jun 15 '16 at 8:33
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Because of the fact that there is basically zero chance that your company will give you anything for doing this, unless there is hardware damage done to the device by someone that works for the company, during company hours, I wouldn't do it.

You point out that the Mac would be better suited, but not required. Your company may agree that it's better suited, but they don't agree that it's worth the not-insignificant investment in a new MacBook Pro or iMac.

Your only two real options are to make the business case further for how quickly they will recoup their investment, or just work on your PC.

I would be willing to bet it's less than 30 hours of work it would have to save you to be worth it for them to buy the Mac. Don't let them out of their responsibility to provide you with the tools you need to let them save money. And definitely don't reduce the lifespan of your personal hardware for their good.

Any place I've heard of that's BYOD around here provides additional compensation for that, normally in the form of a hiring bonus to either buy a new device or cover wear and tear on the current one. It's used as a means to let developers use whatever hardware they choose, not for the company to get out of having to provide the tools their employees need.

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    In addition to the wear and tear, it's also beneficial for the company because they don't end up with a lot of high-powered specific devices that the next guy doesn't want once you leave, which leaves them with not completely written off stuff and having to buy more. – simbabque Jun 14 '16 at 14:26
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    "It's used as a means to let developers use whatever hardware they choose, not for the company to get out of having to provide the tools their employees need." +1,000,000 This is the real reason I see it succeed most of the time. Sometimes there is compensation, some times not. I don't see it any differently then a mechanic or a construction worker that uses their own tools. – coteyr Jun 14 '16 at 19:11
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There's been a lot in the IT press about BYOD, but the reality is, unless you are a CEO who wants his iPad on the network, the reality is it doesn't really happen.

In recent years in software companies as both a perm and contractor, the only employer I saw who supported BYOD had everyone working off remote VMware sessions anyway.

The thing is you using your own kit causes a number of issues, around you leaving with code, risk of you passing it on to third parties and indeed issues around updates, security, being compromised via the Internet. Would you be happy with the employer wiping your laptop when you leave?

I'd avoid the whole issue of you providing kit, even a high end Mac represents a small investment by the employer, who can depreciate it against tax over two years anyway, so a legitimate business expense as far as the taxman is concerned (which compensating you may not be).

  • I've only seen BYOD applied to cell phones, and the company required high security (no facial-recognition unlocking) and the ability to remotely wipe your phone if you reported it missing. – TMN Jun 14 '16 at 15:24
  • "leaving with code"? most recent companies will give you remote access to the code repo anyway, so the wiping part does not make sense in most cases. The OP is likely to already be working and having work-related stuff on their personal laptop. – njzk2 Jun 14 '16 at 15:26
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    "most recent companies will give you remote access to the code repo anyway" - until the minute you leave, when you come into the issues above. This is also pretty rare outside a startup, try it at a blue chip. – The Wandering Dev Manager Jun 14 '16 at 16:14
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    I've worked at several large tech companies that allow BYOD. Most of them required the use of a company-provided locked-down OS image, and all required that employees wipe the machine when they leave the company. Some even require company asset tagging and tracking (with a flag set for "personal device"). And not a single one offered any sort of compensation to me for using my own machine. :) – fluffy Jun 15 '16 at 3:59
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    @SteveJessop - that's what's called CYOD, CHOOSE your own device, much more common. – The Wandering Dev Manager Jun 15 '16 at 14:27
5

Has your employer already mentioned any kind of compensation if you happened to actually bring your personal Mac to work ? If not, I'd say he doesn't intend to compensate you in any way for it.

I actually don't see how he could compensate you for this. Paying you more seems weird, you are not making any additional expenses. The most he could theoretically do would be to pay for any damage to your computer during work hours, but that would be pretty complicated since unless the damage is obvious (like, hardware damage), you'd have to prove it happened during work, and not when you were using it during personal time. And that would have to involve some kind of contract, I don't even know if it is feasible.

To sum it up, don't expect much. I actually wouldn't consider bringing my personal computer to work, and I've never seen it either, but since your question is only about compensation, there's my answer.

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    I am a software developer, and I've never seen nor heard about such a thing. Maybe that's the case in UK, or when freelancing, though. – Sheldonator Jun 14 '16 at 13:13
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    I am on software and I have never ever heard of someone bringing their own computer to work. – cbll Jun 14 '16 at 13:14
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    @cbll it's common for some companies, rare in others. Usually BYOD is for tablets, blackberries and smart phones so your email and a few apps can be set up, such as for realtors. IT, not so much, but it does happen with smaller houses in situations such as this one described by the OP – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jun 14 '16 at 13:32
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    @Charmander: In Software Development in the UK, "BYOD is quite common"? I don't think so sonny jim! – Lightness Races with Monica Jun 14 '16 at 14:41
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    Depends what you mean by BYOD, though. More companies are willing for their employees to read work email on their personal phone, than are willing for their employees to have the source checked out on their personal laptop for development. Either way is confidential information, but the analysis for each is separate, and you shouldn't assume that buzz about so-called BYOD actually leads to the latter being a standard practice. – Steve Jessop Jun 14 '16 at 14:53
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You should not ask, nor will you receive compensation for bringing your own device. In my opinion you shouldn't get any compensation either. As someone who has worked with companies that do have a BYOD policy, and in IT with companies that have a BYOD policy there is absolutely no reason for them to compensate you.

You do get many benefits though. First and foremost you get to use your own computer. That is very nice. It's all opnion I suppose, but I found it quite awesome to be able to use my own computer for work tasks. It made life much easier.

Second, you usually get away from that whole "company machine" issue. Like having to have a horrid background, or not even being allowed to set the time correctly.

Third, As you say in your question, you get a better machine for the task. That doesn't mean you can't use your work provided windows box, it means that your self providede mac book works better.

On the flip side,

The company has to account for your machine now. Meaning they have to support it, at least a little. They will need to track it, and they will need to make sure you have the means to secure it. These all come at a cost.

Think of BYOD as a privilege and be happy about it, not as a task you should be compensated for. If your that hell bent on compensation, then don't BYOD.

  • At least for me, the company laptop is "mine" in the sense that I can basically do whatever I want and need to do with it (for work). I don't think too many developers have to contend with strictly controlled work machines these days, especially on places where BYOD is any kind of an option. – hyde Jun 15 '16 at 4:31
  • Every machine I've used lets you easily change the desktop background without special privileges. There is no "company machine" issue. – Brandin Jun 15 '16 at 8:13
  • "First and foremost you get to use your own computer. That is very nice." -- one way to look at this is that there's two kinds of BYOD policy. There's ones where you can have WoW, BitTorrent and a Linux partition on your device (should you want them), and ones where you can't. In the latter case you're bankrolling the company's IT procurement, in the former case you're actually using your own device :-) – Steve Jessop Jun 15 '16 at 9:36
  • Every place where I worked as developer, except one, I had root/Admin access. The exception was in the public health sector. Everyone there knew it slowed development a lot that developers had no Admin access, but that where the rules some Admin guys thought the law said. I personally don't see any advantage in bringing my own device (did that in a startup some years). At work, I work. I don't need my games there. And nobody pays for the wear/damages on my notebook. Also, I have to carry it every day. – Josef Jun 20 '16 at 8:59
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You should have brought up this issue at the start. You talked your employer into agreeing you can use your personal computer and you should have negotiated a cost then and there as well. The employers expectation otherwise is that you're going to bring it in for free. I'm actually surprised they agreed to that, but those are the facts.

Therefore if you want recompense, now is the time to negotiate, before you start bringing your laptop in. I actually wouldn't ask for monetary compensation. If I had better equipment at home to do a specific project, I'd try and angle to do the work from home.

2

How should my employer compensate me for having to bring my own laptop to work?

You don't have to do this. It sounds like there is no repercussion for using the equipment they've provided. There is very little chance for compensation and if you ask then it could come off as greedy.

My employer provides me with a decent Windows desktop machine to perform my Software Development tasks.

They did this for a reason; to maintain standards and complete ownership of equipment.

However, for a specific project I'm working on, a Mac would be better suited, providing benefits for both my employer and me (and we both agree on this).

I hate to break it to you but I sincerely doubt the employer cares. That's the mark of a good manager; listen and agree if the employee sounds passionate and will internalize the issue at hand. They were just feeding you what you wanted to hear.

Also, what happens if you leave and now they don't have the equipment nor software to continue the project you started? They will now have to get a Mac and you will spend your final 2 weeks porting everything over to be compatible on the new machine.

They can't buy a Mac for me now, but they suggested me to use my personal MacBook.

Heck, if you're OK with this then there is no skin off their back.


Honestly, your next move should be this:

I have considered your suggestion about using my personal computer for work purposes and have decided that I do not feel comfortable using my personal laptop at work. I would like to move forward with this project using the company-issued equipment.

After saying this you can expect one of the following scenarios:

  1. Your manager says "No problem, thanks for giving a heads-up."
  2. Your manager says "It sounds like a Mac might honestly be the better option though; let me see if I can fit it into the budget."
  3. Your manager says "Those points you brought up sounded really valid, won't the Windows computer hold you back?"
    • To which you respond "It might but considering the potential headaches of bringing a Mac into a Windows-based company I just feel that things are better off if we stick to Windows. No sense in putting diesel fuel into a gasoline car just because diesel has its own merits!"
  • 2
    not all employers are cold and calculating. some really do care. the mark of a good manager is not to take advantage of subordinates, but to listen to their concern. if you are willing to use personal resources to benefit the company, i am willing to use resources at my disposal to return the favor. those resources may not be sufficient to buy a mac, but they might be for something smaller that is of some value. – eMBee Jun 14 '16 at 15:26
  • @eMBee I would hardly call it taking advantage. As a software developer a certain level of initiative is expected from you and if the employer feels that they can trust your instincts then they are respecting you and what you are saying by at least trying to meet you half-way. The manager will like you more if you are able to spare them the nitty gritty so that they can focus on progress and not obstacles. It's pretty clear that the manager is not the one internalizing the issue or else a new Mac would have been ordered by now. – MonkeyZeus Jun 14 '16 at 16:10
  • i guess i misunderstood what "internalizing the issue" meant (i am not a native english speaker). it sounded very negative. i was misslead by your statement that you doubt that the employer cares. so you are actually saying you doubt that the employer cares because he has not internalized the issue and solved the problem by ordering a new mac? – eMBee Jun 14 '16 at 16:35
2

It's not clear what type of compensation you're looking for. While money is what most of us think of, there are other things like: time off, education/training, improved benefits, or the ability to work from home that can be compensation.

That said, I agree with most everyone else that you aren't likely to be compensated for bringing your own laptop to work. I've done so myself and have known others who have done so. I've never heard of anyone being compensated for it.

Before I got a laptop, one employer responded with incredulity when I asked to borrow one for a proposal where I was expected to work outside my normal office (which was at the client's site, thus I wasn't allowed to use that equipment). This disbelieving response came, even though they maintained a set of laptops for people who traveled. Furthermore, a laptop's cost was prohibitively expensive for my income at the time. Their response indicated that they thought I should already have the hardware and software they wanted me to have, even though office suite software wasn't as standardized or compatible as it is now, and the suite I had at home was different than they used. However, they did grudgingly loan me a laptop, because that was less expensive than purchasing another license for their suite of office software and I wasn't going to buy it with my own money. While this was roughly two decades ago, I've not seen much change in employers' attitudes in this area over time.

You've said in your question that you can do the job with the equipment you're already provided, but a Mac would be better for the project. However, the company doesn't want to purchase a Mac at this time. In a way, this is already an answer - you're expected to get the job done with what you have. They aren't going to stop you if you want to use your own equipment, but they aren't going to pay for that type of equipment.

At the best, if you feel you really must receive some sort of compenation, I think asking to work from home is your best bet. I'd be surprised if they agree, and I don't expect they'll let you do much more than one or two days per week. However if they do agree, at least you'll be compensated by eliminating your commute time and expense those days and being able to work in your pajamas! ;-)

1

the burden of having to bring it would be the biggest issue for me, as well as resource consumption (taking up diskspace, etc)

having been on both sides of this i am sympathetic, i have had employees bring in their laptop and leave it at the office even, and while i would not have been able to buy them an equivalent machine (making their choice between their laptop and that poor old desktop) i would have considered a request for a RAM or disk upgrade fair.

i am not sure if that's even possible with macs nowadays though. maybe as alternative you could ask for a small contribution towards your next hardware purchase.

an external disk might also be prudent (to leave your work at the office) but if you can't keep that, it would not be any compensation.

1

I'm asking this question because BYOD is quite a common practice nowadays in Software Development, and I think if you are bringing your personal computer, you should not do it for free.

Maybe in startups? In the Real WorldTM software developers only work on company provided hardware and are restricted/forbidden to work on company IP on their own machines (since these are not regulated or controlled by the organization).

In fact, in many Real WorldTM companies, you can get into serious trouble for working on company assets on non-approved hardware; trouble all the way from a reprimand to firing and possibly legal action.


You didn't mention the industry you are working in, because this has an impact on external device policies.

I agree with others that BYOD is more of a marketing fad drummed up by network security vendors claiming that people are bringing everything but the kitchen sink with them to the office and the network needs to worry about security and what not and the easiest way to do that is to buy the latest FireWall 5000 EE (Enterprise Edition) from said vendor.

In reality what happens at most businesses* is that use of third party devices is regulated. The degree of regulation depends on the specific industry; if the business is subject to external audits then policies become even more extreme. These external audits can be from a regulator (such as that for a bank) or from a third-party (such as a company that is PCI compliant or has ISO 27001 compliance to maintain).

In these organizations, hardware is procured and it is preferred (or required, again, depending on what is mandated) that all company work be done on company provided hardware; because only company managed hardware is allowed access to the company network because it is subject to the company's firewall/lockdown policies.

If you are bringing in your own hardware then:

  1. You need to have an agreement in place regarding ownership and transfer of company assets. If there is no such policy in place; don't drum one up yourself. Get an attorney's assistance in order to protect both your and the company's liability.

  2. If access is approved - I would recommend creating a separate account on the computer and use it for office work.

  3. The company may not allow access on the network unless you agree to relinquish some control of the device. At my work if we access email on our personal mobile phones (after signing a bunch of agreements), the account is setup only if we allow remote wipe of the device by the company and put a PIN passcode (not a fingerprint or pattern) on the device AND subject it to the password expiry policies of the company. If we disagree on any of this, the account is not setup.

  4. There is normally no compensation provided; in fact, the company may have to budget for additional licenses or support for your device.

  5. You may be entitled to other relief from the tax authorities; but it is best to check with a tax attorney or even your company's tax department. They may also be interested in your device for similar taxing or reporting purposes.

  6. You may be required to surrender/present your device for company audits or obtain security clearance for it - check with the relevant areas.

Even if all this is approved - it is in the best interest of you and your employer that they procure the hardware for you; from my personal experience this provides the least friction and safeguards everyone.

* A business is an established company, and not a startup environment.

0

After my company got rid of the Blackberry, they stopped providing cell phones for employees. They switched to a plan where you could use your own smart phone with your own data plan and the company provided an additional monthly expense payment if you used company email and allowed them to call you on it.

I realize you have no similar history with your company of paying for hardware, but just because they can't pay the full price of a Mac Book, they could give you something for using yours.

It's not that unreasonable, but you know these people more than we do. There's no way of knowing if they'll be offended or think you're just in it for the money.

If they were smart, they'd make sure you understood they would at least pay for any necessary maintenance for this critical item needed for an important project. Then again, you can rely on the excellent services at your local genius bar.

0

I think the reasons to do or not do this have been exhausted and the many complexities are worth noting. If you choose to proceed, I would use simple math:

How much is the computer worth today (x)?

What is the useful life of the device in months under the expected conditions (y)?

Ask for x/y per month.

0

Maybe they should let you work from home from time to time, or let you have lunch hours outside while carrying your own laptop, but you might have already that privilege, I don't think they would agree on give you any kind of monetary compensation, they might be forced to buy you a new laptop if in the middle of the project using mac only software yours "suddenly stopped working".

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