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posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06 2022, @02:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'd-like-an-ice-cream-machine-please dept.

An Anonymous Coward writes the following story:

I’ve long believed companies should offer workers a choice in the technology they use in the office and when working remote. Doing so lets employees use what they feel is the best choice of devices for their work, it can help attract and retain staff, it lessens the likelihood workers will go rogue and source their own technology (aka shadow IT), and it establishes a positive relationship between IT and the rest of an organization.

Companies like IBM and SAP have documented their experiences in moving to an employee-choice model and have declared it a success. But does that mean it would work for every company? And how do you decide which way to go?

The most important question in developing (or expanding) an employee-choice model is determining how much choice to allow. Offer too little and you risk undermining the effort's benefits. Offer too much and you risk a level of tech anarchy that can be as problematic as unfettered shadow IT. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Every organization has unique culture, requirements/expectations, and management capabilities. An approach that works in a marketing firm would differ from a healthcare provider, and a government agency would need a different approach than a startup.

Options also vary depending on the devices employees use — desktop computing and mobile often require differing approaches, particularly for companies that employ a BYOD program for smartphones.

Most employee-choice programs focus on desktops and laptops. The default choice is typically basic: do you want a Windows PC or a Mac? Most often, the choice only extends to the platform, not specific models (or in the case of PCs, a specific manufacturer). Keeping the focus on just two platforms eases administrative overhead and technical support requirements. It also allows companies to leverage volume purchases from one partner in order to receive bulk discounts.

Have you been allowed to choose your own technology and equipment at work? What were the choices offered to you and what restrictions were placed upon them?

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Ox0000 on Saturday August 06 2022, @03:41PM (5 children)

    by Ox0000 (5111) on Saturday August 06 2022, @03:41PM (#1265271)

    If you ONLY use silly websites to do your work (NextCloud, MS365, GSuite, etc...), sure, have at it. As long as you have a browser for your system and you have implemented Zero Trust properly I see no problem.

    Besides that, there is an important thing to consider:

    Would it be convenient for employees? Sure
    Would it be practical? No for organizations, and neither would it be for employees.

    If it was up to me, I'd be using my own rolling distro (the one that shan't be named for fear of confirming the stereotype - which, whoops, I just did) but I'd be the only one with that. Similarly, Suzy would be using Slackware ("Ask 10 Slackware users how to do X, and get at least 11 answers"), Mike would still be using a VAX, and then there's Tom who mutters things under his breath along the lines of "they'll pry my CP/M out of my cold, dead hands", Johny would be on Windows 10, and Anna on Windows 2000 because that was the pinnacle of windows. To be fair, no-one would be on Windows 8 nor 11 because, ${DEITY} how awful those things are!

    The issue here is that either your IT support now needs to span every imaginable device/OS/application (which they won't because that's not reasonable)


    You provide fuck-all support and tell your employees "If your thing breaks, that's on you". Let me know how that works out for you...

    The "fuck-all-support-mode" works well for those who actually know shit about computers, which is probably less than 2% or your workforce.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by RS3 on Saturday August 06 2022, @04:50PM (2 children)

    by RS3 (6367) on Saturday August 06 2022, @04:50PM (#1265294)

    All good points, but how about: instead of one extreme or the other, support people work under the rule that they'll try to help you with your personal tech / choice of tech, but if they don't know it, not to waste time on it. Not clear-cut, I understand, but rarely is any support / fix clear-cut at the deeper tech levels.

    I didn't grasp your hint about your Linux distro preference; which one?

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by Ox0000 on Saturday August 06 2022, @05:40PM (1 child)

      by Ox0000 (5111) on Saturday August 06 2022, @05:40PM (#1265311)

      I get where you're going and you're aiming for being reasonable towards those users. I get that and that's laudable.
      In my experience, the problem with that is that you need a coherent, easy-to-follow Policy: you have to draw your line _somewhere_ and unless you do make it clear-cut, the part about "if they don't know it, not to waste time on it" is what will kill that approach in practice. If you leave any kind of ambiguity, there will be mayhem and before you know it the sentence "don't waste time on it" will turn into unhappy users going "but why won't those IT people help me with X, I'm being so reasonable and my non-comprehending brain thinks it should take them all but 5 seconds so why wouldn't they help me with this error message that says 'recompile kernel'."

      Like I said: I get where you're going, I really do, and I would love to be able to follow you there. In practice, this does not work out.
      You either have to go all in on BYOD or not at all. There is no middle-ground... unfortunately. And going all-in requires a certain degree of 'maturity' by your users.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by RS3 on Saturday August 06 2022, @06:46PM

        by RS3 (6367) on Saturday August 06 2022, @06:46PM (#1265328)

        I get you too. I don't think there's a broad-brush encompassing answer- it all depends on many many factors. I generally prefer adaptive rules and policies in life. Again, my stance would be clear up front- if you bring your own tech, we will try to help you, but if we're not sure what to do, can't figure it out quickly, you're on your own. Users would know this and agree to this clearly up front. If it impacts their job / productivity, it may not go well for them, so it's up to them to make that choice. I'm not big on the "nanny-state"- I prefer personal choice, but knowing fully well the repercussions may well be due to the individual's choices, and can't whine / blame it on others- you were duly warned.

        Again, it totally depends on the situation. If it's a very small company, or some kind of "skeleton crew" where the loss of a brilliant graphic artist would seriously hurt the company, like anything you'd have to have a stricter policy.

        One company I worked for was all DOS / Windows stuff. I was the only person doing Linux, and it had NO impact on anyone or anything else. They had 1 brilliant highly productive graphic artist, and he insisted bringing his own Macintosh computers and software. So he did most of his stuff on the Mac, then exported things to the Windows computer, finalized it there.

        Same company, mid-late 90s, I was doing many things including some C and I greatly preferred to use Borland C for most development and testing, but company policy said I had to use MS for final compile. It all worked very well. I even found a huge bug in Borland C- this was in the 32-bit days- I wrote code that "hooked" the timer (or something, I forget) to do "background" tasks. Main task (not mine) did 32-bit math / calculations. With my module installed, there were significant glitches in graphed display. Long story short- even with .32 (or whatever the directive was), Borland was NOT pushing EAX, just AX. Ooops!! It did not cost much time nor loss at all, and I will argue that I was MUCH more productive with Borland tools, rather than MS (pre-visual studio times).

  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday August 06 2022, @07:20PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday August 06 2022, @07:20PM (#1265335) Journal

    A rule to only use software still under support would be reasonable and already rule out quite a few of your examples.

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07 2022, @02:56AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07 2022, @02:56AM (#1265371)

    To be fair, I'd be with Mike, so there'd be two of us on the VAX. Then we'd be able to phone each other too.