The company that I work for are trialling “Bring Your Own Computer”. The way it works is that the company gives each employee a set amount of money and in return we bring our own computer into the workplace. Employees can either purchase a new computer or if they already own a computer, they can simply use that.

They’re not the first company to implement such as scheme and from my research the jury is still out on whether it’s a good idea or not, but it’s supposed to be a win-win situation.

The benefit for the employer is reduced hardware and support costs and the benefit to the employee is that they can use whatever device they like (PC/Mac/Tablet) as long as it gets the work done. Although the device is configured with a virtual machine that contains work-related applications in a work-related environment, users can switch out of the virtual environment to use other apps and files without the need for a reboot.

Although I’m not part of the trial, I have been bringing my own devices into work for quite a long time and I’ve been doing it without receiving any additional compensation. I do so because I feel that it makes me more productive and helps me to get my work done faster and with fewer problems. Here’s just a few examples:

iPad

iPad

Thanks to my iPad, I have been able to “go paperless” at work. I can take notes in meetings, produce sketches and drawings for projects, plan projects and training courses, produce audio recordings of meetings and audio recordings of my training courses (with participants permission of course) and create and deliver presentations, spreadsheets and documents that are Word/Excel 2007 compatible.

The high storage capacity (I have the 64GB version) allows me to have over 400 eBooks, magazines, reference articles and training videos at my fingertips.

iPhone

In some respects, the iPhone is a smaller, more portable version of the iPad. I have a notes app which I use for storing short notes and reference information (for example the login details for our Webex account), I have all my work related passwords stored in the 1Password password manager and I have been known to make work-related phone calls and send work related SMS messages.

MacBook Pro

Apart from the fact that my MacBook Pro has twice as much RAM as my work-provided laptop, the fact that it runs OSX and not Vista is probably enough to justify lugging it to work! In all seriousness, the main benefit is that I’m not limited to work-approved software and if I really must run Windows software I can do it in a virtual machine.

Novatel MiFi

MiFi

One of the major issues I face at work is Internet access. Some sites are “locked down” and can’t be accessed. One such site is YouTube and whilst the powers-that-be might think that people would spend their working days watching clips of sneezing pandas, the reality is that there is a great deal of useful, educational content on that site (such as my Office 2010 tutorials).

Another problem that we face at work is that the company standard browser is Internet Explorer 7 (it’s only in the last 12 months that we have upgraded from IE6!) which is now unsupported by many sites.

My Novatel 2352 MiFi is my personal mobile broadband device. The MiFi, which fits into the palm of your hand, is connected to the Virgin mobile broadband network. It provides about 4 hours of continuous battery life and enables me to download 3GB of data for £15 per month.

Up to five devices can be connected to it simultaneously which means that I can share my connection between my MacBook, iPad and iPhone and if the network connection in our office decides to fail, I could connect my work laptop to the MiFi and connect to the company network via VPN (just as if I was logging in from home).

Monitors

I recently purchased two 23-inch monitors which reside in my office and are connected to my work Vista laptop. I wrote a blog post about my reasons for doing this and the benefits it has brought.

MX Revolution

Mouse

There are benefits to investing in a good quality mouse, whether it’s reducing the risk of RSI, or simply making work quicker and more efficient. That said, you’ll still find people using the cheapest mouse they can find.

A couple of years ago I bought 2 wireless Logitec MX Revolution mice. One of them lives at home and the other comes to work with me. Originally I only used it with the MacBook Pro, however, recently I’ve started to use it with the Vista laptop, although to get the best out of it, you need to install drivers and software, which I can’t do because our work computers are “locked down”.

However, even without being able to configure the MX Revolution’s 5 buttons, the mouse is very comfortable to use compared to the cheap and cheerful mouse that I was using, plus there’s one less wire trailing across my desk.

My Working Environment

I’ve put a photo of my current workplace desk layout/setup on my Flickr page.