One Positive Doesn’t Always Lead to Another
The global firm I started working for on a full-time basis in October of 2017 is a top competitor in its field in many ways and I count myself fortunate that they pursued and recruited me. They offered me a very competitive salary and an office from which I can see planes landing at John Wayne International Airport.
However, on the first day in my job in Costa Mesa, a hamlet that resides between trendy, affluent Newport Beach and the more surf-centered Huntington Beach in Southern California’s Orange County, it became quickly apparent that I was in for a rough ride from an IT point-of-view.
A new-ish Lenovo ThinkPad® was unboxed on my desk along with a standard-issue keyboard, mouse, and flat screen monitor. Although I’d been Mac-focused for the last five years as a private consultant/freelancer, I was optimistic about the choice of laptop and thought I’d be capable of embracing the PC world once again, however backward I thought it to be.
I assumed that the positive aspect of my move southward from the San Francisco Bay Area to a new position with such a forward-thinking company meant that my IT set-up would be a close match.
I Was Wrong
Not only does the laptop PC run an archaic version of Microsoft Windows, but the MS Office Suite is the 2010 version: one that Microsoft no longer supports. Add to this the flat screen monitor’s piss-poor resolution and you imagine my immediate longing for my retina display and MacBook Pro.
I gave it the good, old college try, as they say, and tried to use what I’d been given. This situation lasted for about 5 months before I hit the wall. It was futile to ask the New York City-based IT department to intervene having seen what other mistakes they made after I came aboard: shipping one new employee a desktop tower and laptop docking station.
I mean, WTF, right?
Inferior Technology and Decreased Productivity
In my experience, inferior or ill-fitting technology leads to decreased productivity.
In this case, both categories are applicable. Because I am first and foremost a writer, the keyboard my fingers tips hover above and depress in rapid, ordered succession must be a comfortable fit. It must act, and most of the time become, the extension of my thoughts as they are transmitted from cerebrum to fingers via a complex organization of nerve synapses and contractile muscle fibers. Any interruption of this process has a profound effect on my resulting productivity.
The keyboard that accompanied my ThinkPad was clunky, not matched well with my natural finger position, and nowhere near as effortless as my stand-alone Apple keyboard. So, I did what anyone in my position would do – I tried to make it work. I bought a new Logitech keyboard with my own funds. It was an improvement, but still not what I needed.
When I combined the keyboard mismatch with the poor resolution of the screen, I knew I had only one clear choice: Bring in my own equipment.
Apple Saves the Day and Countless Hours of Frustration
The way I perceived the problem left one conclusion; If I wanted to be productive and do my job to the best of my ability, I knew I’d have to bring in my own set-up. At first, I just used my Apple email client to get the work-related email which was simple enough to figure out by looking at the email server addresses on my company issued iPhone (another archaic model that I placed in a drawer and forgot about). However preferred, the set-up using Apple Mail proved problematic when sending and accepting invitations to meetings, etc. The Apple Calendar didn’t always match up with the native MS Outlook calendar on my laptop.
When I worked as a freelancer and consultant, I subscribed to a Microsoft Office subscription account that I paid for monthly. I recalled that it worked without any issues. So I made a few changes, resubscribed again I now had a fully-functioning MacBook Pro with MS Office and Outlook.
However, the flatscreen didn’t play nicely with the Mac. It was like a transplant patient’s immune system rejecting a donor’s heart. It also reminded me of Apple’s classic marketing win with their Mac vs. PC commercials whereby Apple ghosted the weaknesses of the PC.
Good viewing…especially if you’re a fellow Apple Fanboy or Fangirl.
So, I brought in my 27-inch retina Thunderbolt display and now my set up was complete. Well, nearly complete. I added my Apple Magic mouse and a new Apple Magic keyboard and finally felt like I could get some serious work done.
But Not All is Perfect
The only two things I can’t do on this set-up that I can do on the PC are print to the network printers and search network drives. I’m not IT savvy enough to get those working (and the printers we use don’t have a wireless capability so the MacBook doesn’t detect them.)
Since I don’t have to access the network drives very often, I use the laptop for that. Otherwise, it sits idle and rightfully relegated to the back credenza portion of my desk.
Why I Can Get Away with It
Most employers would look down on this bold declaration of IT independence, but most employers have decent PCs with high-resolution screens. If I had a modern PC, I could, and with some practice and lot a patience, get by and perhaps get things done. But we don’t.
The IT guy is located 500 miles north of our office and only visits about once or twice a quarter. If he was located in the next building, I’d probably have encountered some resistance related to the insurability of my equipment, liability issues for company information on a private computer, etc.
Mostly, I think he’d just be jealous.
But I’ve gotten away with this set-up so far and if for any of the above reasons I encounter pushback, I’ll stand my ground and defend my choices. I’ll tell my employer to get their IT sh*t together and get some decent equipment.
When they offer me a PC system that results in as much of a boost in productivity as my Mac system does, I’ll consider it.
Until then, I’ll continue to Think Different.