Back to the office? Don't forget your laptop charger

Two different docking stations: the second one requires you to use your laptop charger. Photo: DUB

Not everyone will be able to work optimally upon their return to the university, according to the expectations of Rob Iseger, Workplace Product Manager in the Information and Technology Services department."It's possible that your laptop will not fit in the docking station of your workplace of choice”. A situation the university didn't mean to see happening.

One of UU's principles is that all employees should be able to work appropriately at all times, everywhere. That means that each desk should be equipped with one or two screens, a keyboard, a mouse, and a docking station. Since there are different laptop models in circulation, UU would like to have docking stations suitable for all of them. “But that’s not the problem. Universal docking stations do exist, but they're not available right now due to production delays. We really did order them on time, but we won’t be receiving any new ones before the end of the year.”

Delivery problems
The villain of this story? Covid-19. The pandemic has caused delays in the mining of raw materials needed for the production of computer chips, which in turn caused a delay in the production of laptops and docking stations. At the same time, the global demand for these products has increased. Iseger emphasises that the university is not the only one facing delivery problems. “This is a worldwide problem.”

Most UU employees received a laptop in 2020, when everyone started to work from home because of the pandemic. Now that everyone is going back to the office, those laptops must be plugged in a docking station. Due to the aforementioned delivery problems, the stations are spread out across the university, with each office space hosting different types. “Some are universal, others are only suitable for certain models. There is also a type that does not charge your laptop, so you have to bring your own charger. That's not ideal, but at the moment, there is no other way”, laments Iseger. “Of course, you could also choose to work without a docking station, monitor, keyboard or mouse. That is the advantage of a laptop.”

The production of business laptops and several smartphone models has also been delayed because of the pandemic, which is why UU employees might have to wait longer than usual to receive a new phone or laptop. “When we call the suppliers, they usually tell us that the expected delivery time is two to three months, but sometimes the answer is ‘unknown’. We find it very annoying, of course, but we and the suppliers are doing our best to fix this problem as soon as possible”, guarantees Iseger.

Why did the desktops disappear?
That has to do with an agreement between the university and the tax authorities. A document called Regulations for the Provision of Mobile Equipment states that said equipment must be provided whenever employees cannot perform their duties properly otherwise. That the case when employees were forced to work from home during the first lockdown.

However, the regulations also state that employees who do have a laptop shouldn't get a desktop computer, but rather additional equipment (such as keyboard or monitor) to enable them to work according to the occupational health regulations. This agreement is important because a laptop could be considered income by the tax authorities if the employee could be using a PC instead. The desktop computers that used to be in the office spaces will be used as a future replacement for the desktops in the study rooms.