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Do you issue staff with laptops or desktops?

I have just responded to a post on a discussion list about the pros and cons of giving teaching staff laptops rather than desktops, and seeing as the laptop model was one that I used about 6 years ago in a team, and is the only way that I can personally work, I put together a few pointers for other people thinking about this, which I will share here

  1. Make sure the staff have a docking station, so that when at their desk they can connect their laptop to a proper keyboard, mouse, etc. (health and safety) Dell do a very good set-up where the docking station is an adjustable stand, so you use the monitor of the laptop as your screen, but the height can be easily adjusted.
  2. In terms of insurance, it generally isn’t worth insuring laptops, as the excess is usually higher than the value of the item. With insurance some home insurance companies will cover work laptops, some won’t – I certainly had a member of staff have a laptop stolen from home, and their insurance paid up without too much hassle (which surprised me) but some home insurance policies won’t cover something that you don’t actually own.
  3. Give people decent bags for carrying the laptops – I would now recommend laptop rucksacks, as much easier than the cheap ones that often come with the laptop.
  4. If all your main teaching staff have laptops, then one problem this does present is the part time casual staff who only teach a few hours each week, won’t have a computer to use when they do come in and want to print out their notes – so you do need some desktops dotted around for them.
  5. In theory if staff are using it for personal use then it becomes a taxable perk, but how you differentiating what is home use and what is private use is very hard – as almost anything that one does at home, could be classified as learning how to use the computer/internet and therefore part of their job.
  6. One thing to decide is whether to allow the computers to connect to peoples networks at home – and this is something that needs careful thought – we did allow it, which meant that staff could use them effectively, but it did cause a few problems with conflicting settings, staff downloading stuff onto them that they shouldn’t etc.
  7. Think about your rotation policy of new laptops – if you get a batch of new laptops who do these go to – the new members of staff, or the existing staff (who then pass theirs onto the new staff) – again just needs thinking hrough, and consistency is the key.
  8. Lifespan – a laptop used by teaching staff will probably last 2 years, whereas a desktop might do 3 years – so there it is the more expensive option, but is cheaper than giving everyone a desktop and laptop, which often happens.
  9. Colour coding – Although some people made fun of my system, I was managing over 70 laptops within the team, so I set up a colour code scheme using electrical tape – I had 6 colours of tape, and by using combinations of 3 colours, I could create numerous unique combinations (e.g. someone may be red, white, blue, and another person may be yellow, yellow, green). I then put tape around each separate piece of kit – e.g. the laptop bag handle, both parts of the power cable, the mouse ….so if cables get muddled then it is very easy to repatriate them with their owners, by matching the colour codes to people.
  10. Provide a Kensington lock with every laptop (give them one key, and keep one yourself, for when they lose theirs), so staff can lock them to a desk when not attended – however you need to educate people as to what to lock it to – I have often seen people wrapping the cable around a table leg, but forgetting that you can lift the table up to remove it!

Do you issue staff with laptops or desktops?


One Response

  1. […] Excerpt from: Do you issue staff with laptops or desktops? « Dave Foord’s Weblog […]

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