Having a laptop at work is a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing because I can work from just about anywhere in the office. If super loud headphone guy is blaring thrash metal when I’m trying to concentrate on some key figures, boom, pick up my laptop and head off to an unused conference room. Problem solved. Nice.
Unfortunately, the list of cons is significantly longer than the pros.
First, the laptop I was given weighs more than a boat anchor. I swear the desktop I have at home weighs less than this old Dell laptop. It would be a huge plus if I was trading weight for speed, but I’m not. When I have a large spreadsheet open, my laptop slows way down. A crawl would be a massive improvement! When I was in San Francisco one of my taxi drivers picked up my laptop bag to put it in the taxi and asked if I was carrying rocks or something. It’s really that heavy!
Next, the portability factor is also a curse. Now I have to schlep this thing to every meeting I go to. There is no longer an excuse to not have my PC with me. “Hey John, why don’t you pull up the latest numbers and tell us about x, y, and z.” I used to be able to zone out during meetings, but now I never know if I’m going to be called on for an impromptu presentation. Meetings suck.
You can’t discount how much that portability also plays into turning a conference into a work experience. Back in the desktop days, going to a conference could be a welcome break from the rigors of the office. Not any more. Now I’m expected to carry my laptop with me at all times, hook into the conference wifi, and stay “engaged” with the office activities. It’s worse if I’m in a different time zone. Gone is the possibility of having a morning or afternoon off depending on the time zone. Now, in addition to working the conference, I’m required to work the regular office hours too. Yuck!
Being on a plane is no better. Now that a preponderance of flights offer some sort of internet connection, I have an obligation to log in to at least the mail server. Why can’t I enjoy my bag of pretzels and “free” soda without having to respond to general ledger update requests?
The small screen size doesn’t do me any favors either. Fortunately, my desk has two very nice over-sized monitors. Seriously, these things are bigger than my TV at home. They’re beautiful and I’m completely spoiled. When I hit the road there’s no way I’m carrying the monitors with me, especially since my laptop needs it’s own rolling bag. When I go portable, I lose those fancy monitors and end up staring at a 15″ screen. Have you ever tried working on a complex spreadsheet when you can only see a 20×20 grid in Excel? It’s painful. I’d guess that the majority of any errors I make come during a mobile session.
My boss has a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and I’m totally jealous. How can I get one of those? She plugs it in to her even bigger screens and powers through her work. Sure, the screen size issue comes into play when travelling, but she’s shown me how she can use the stylus to mark up documents and how blazing fast it is. I was complaining about my laptop’s slow speed so we had an “open off.” We both downloaded a huge spreadsheet and opened them at the same time. Her laptop took 1/3 of the time mine did to open the same file. It’s ridiculous.
I need to figure out how to force an upgrade on my machine. Any ideas?