Jealous much? 8 techy things that can spark office envy

From telecommuting to extra monitors, technology has given us new reasons to be jealous of our co-workers

Definition of covet
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson

Many things in the workplace have long been the source of jealousy among co-workers. Traditionally, these are things like office space, compensation and special treatment from the boss. These days, though, technology has introduced a whole new list of things a fellow employee may have that you (really) want. Here are 8 tech-related office things that can make co-workers green with envy.

Working poolside
Being able to work poolside or in your PJs

One of the great seismic shifts that technology has induced in the workplace is that many people now don’t even need to be in the office to do their jobs. Of course, it takes more than just technology to make telecommuting possible; your boss also has to sign off on it and if that perk is available to some but not others, sore feelings can be the result. In a recent survey by Kona and 56% of respondents reported that working remotely can cause envy among co-workers. Clearly, most people would prefer working in their jammies.

new computer
That new computer smell

Are you working on a hand-me-down or refurbished computer, while the gent in the next cube over has a brand new system? Most companies have policies about the lifecycle of computers and peripherals, but how closely IT sticks to those rules can vary. Some new employees may negotiate a new computer as part of their hiring package, while company veterans may have no choice but to make do with a “gently used” system. Certain job functions may warrant upgrades more often than others while, sometimes it’s just the squeaky wheel that gets the new MacBook Pro. Whether it’s justified or not, being on the short end of the upgrade stick can make you feel second class.

multiple computer monitors
Screen real estate out the wazoo

The number and size of computer monitors can be pretty important to some people, particularly those who need a lot of screen real estate, such as programmers and designers. In addition, it’s been shown that, regardless of job function, widescreen displays can significantly boost worker productivity. Therefore, if you’re someone who really needs an extra or bigger monitor (or two), but has been denied it, it’s only natural that you’ll be giving the hairy eyeball to the woman with an IMAX sized display in her office.

iMac computer
Something in anodized aluminum

Apple may (co)rule the tablet and smartphone worlds but, when it comes to desktops and laptops, Microsoft is still the king. While many corporate IT departments may only support Microsoft products for the desktop, some companies support both platforms. The choice of which one you get may depend on your preference, job function or departmental budget. In the latter two cases, you may find yourself lusting after your co-worker's iMac, while you sit and stare at your Windows machine (sigh). This can lead you to develop feelings of anger towards that hipster designer in skinny jeans with a MacBook Pro.

Credit: flickr/Gilly
He can BYOD but I can’t

Being able to bring your own device (BYOD) to work is growing in leaps and bounds. According to an IDC study in 2012, 64% of business surveyed allowed employees to access company networks via a smartphone. But not all BYOD policies are created equally. Another study from last year found that over half of the companies that allow BYOD restrict access to specific platforms, OSs or devices. Given the concern over increased security risk with Android devices, Android fans, unlike iPhone fanboys, may not be able to use their preferred devices at work. The result: a strong urge to spill coffee on your co-worker’s iPhone.

standing desk
Office equipment that won’t hurt you

Thanks to technology, many jobs now involve sitting at a computer all day. While it’s not exactly as dangerous as, say, working in an industrial revolution-era factory, it’s still not without its physical costs. Having the wrong office equipment can be detrimental to your health, by causing backaches, repetitive strain injuries and even shortening your life. Companies that unevenly distribute equipment to minimize discomfort and promote health, like ergonomic chairs, stand-up desks and split keyboards, risk causing a worker denied them to feel not only physical pain but also resentment towards the guy with a treadmill desk.

guy with feet on desk
Credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Not being shackled to a desktop

Tablets are all the rage these days, being on pace to outsell desktops and laptops combined by 2015, but one place they are still surprisingly underused is in the workplace. Seeing a co-worker issued a tablet, then, is still a bit of a novelty these days, which can make others wonder why they didn’t get one. Seeing a co-worker with laptop may even make those still shackled to a desktop feel inadequate. If some workers can enjoy the freedom of a laptop or tablet but others can't that may not be good for team building.

Superuser powers

Something that can make the geekier types in an office feel jealous is the granting of superuser or administrator privileges on a desktop/laptop computer, a server or some other system. Some people would like to be able to install software, tweak laptop settings or create a new database at will. Obviously, some jobs, like IT administrator or desktop support, may require such rights. While official IT policies will often dictate who can have this kind of access, sometimes they’re granted based on dubious claims of need or just due to a friendship with the right IT staffer, which can cause jealousy. Remember, though, with superuser power comes superuser responsibilities.