[Opinion] Should we have employee owned IT equipment?

Technology depreciates, and gets surpassed so quickly. In my opinion, it is environmental, economical, and practical lunacy to have two versions of it at any given time. Processing speed is doubling every year and new innovations like solid-state batteries are about to emerge.

All of this electrical waste piles up in less developed countries poisoning water supplies whilst children in less developed countries forage amongst the electrical debris for valuable components. We run thousands of manufacturing facilities and miles of server rooms to create and serve these devices, which often store duplicate apps and data.

Our eyes shine at the glow of having something new, sometimes twice a year! Then that new item engulfs hours of our time in the wonder of setups and testing of new functionality. All whilst climate change commences and our world turns into a rubbish tip.

Why do we get work and home devices?

Mostly because of privacy and security. IT departments love their own brand of technology and the control that it brings. Most have got systems supported by outside agencies, most of whom haven’t advanced therefore don’t like the use of office equipment for home computing.

Getting the IT department on board with sustainability means they need to think about cutting waste. For any desk-based business this waste is significant and so is the cost of replacing it.

Surely, these aren’t good enough reasons. Environmental impact requires us to get out of our comfort zone and adopt new ways of doing things.

How would work-home technology sharing work?

Employees could take ownership and responsibility for the equipment they’re using. When they arrive they could have the option to use their own or work technology. Contracts of employment could provide annual budgets for equipment allowing for either new equipment to be paid off over time or own equipment to be subsidized.

Restrictions to access the server for information or emails could be dealt with simply through home and work logins, enabling privacy and allowing people to use the device for whatever they want. All of us pretty much use the cloud to store data so data storage isn’t particularly an issue.

During employment, if people wanted an upgrade or needed a replacement they could use their budget to trade amongst other employees. Instead of workers having technology envy, a system of exchange could be put in place that allowed those people who cared about technology to find ways of upgrading.

One idea could be for a business to set up a trading system. When someone wants something new they could offer from the technology budget to buy it off someone else, whilst ‘selling’ their own device. Once the equipment is no longer functional or desirable it could then be traded with external organizations like Globechain or Warp-it.or restored/upgraded by organisations such as RDC.

The role of the IT department would alter radically. They would no longer control technology purchase, they would advise. Instead of providing one system that fits all they would need to continually learn to deal with different types of technology and the connectivity which come with that.

And instead of spending a lot of money on new technology they would need more staff to help fix the existing whilst upgrading software. This would roll back years of work in decreasing IT support but it is still likely to save money.

How many times have you asked for IT support and not got anyone? Well, this system would be human centric focusing on upskilling and training. Everyone would be a little more tech savvy on their own device, would be conscious of using it well, and IT support would be available as there would simply be more people to help.

Insurance could be an issue but employees could be put under contract to have anything they used for office purposes ensured, and there could also be an allowance for this within a contract. And training… well… we all need to do things differently so let’s learn!

Opinions on employee-owned technology

Employee-owned equipment in a workplace would result in people learning more, IT teams being more collaborative and the business being able to invest better. Instead of spending money on the technology waste factory, businesses could get very good equipment that is used till the end of its life, whilst spending more on people to help keep it in good condition.

What do you think - would it work in your work setting?