Work problem got moved to collegue, feel bad about it.
June 18, 2014 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I wasn't happy with my work-issued laptop and mentioned this to my supervisor. He announced a switch, my collegue would get my laptop and I would get her new one, which is due to arrive next week. She is not happy with it either, but didn't protest. I feel bad about it. What to do?

I started this job a month ago, we are a small group of five people within a larger department. Usual policy is that new employees can choose which hardware they want to work with and it is ordered by the IT department. Until it arrives, we work with our private laptops. Our supervisor and the previous members of the team work with MacBooks and are quite happy with it. When I started, the supervisor offered me a spare MacBook which was still lying around and could be used immediately. I expressed my reluctance because I've never worked with Mac OS before and some specialist software doesn't run on it. However, I still agreed to try it. Today I ran into some difficulties and asked my supervisor how he had solved them with his MacBook. He remembered my initial dislike and announced a switch: The MacBook goes to the other colleague who started at the same time as me and I'm going to get the Linux laptop she picked out for herself, which is due to arrive next week. She (the colleague) seemed to be taken by surprise and didn't protest, but it was clear she was less than thrilled. What should I do now? I feel terrible about it, because the problem was just moved to someone else, who had even less to do with it. She told me not to worry about it and she would try to get the hang of it.
Should I ask to switch it back? Persuade the supervisor to order an additional laptop and put the MacBook back in storage?
posted by Triton to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I get why you feel bad but this isn't really your place to feel bad. It's your employer's dick move, and also a tiny bit on your coworker for not standing up for yourself.

If the policy is that you get to choose what you want to work with and they order it for you, YOU should be getting your own choice of computer, not what your coworker ordered specifically for the work she would be doing. So really both of you are getting screwed here.

It would probably make me feel better, personally, to go to the coworker myself and say something like "I can't believe they did that, right?" and encourage her to request another laptop that she can use so she can do her job.

But really, you can't take this burden on yourself. It's not your fault that you work for buttheads.
posted by phunniemee at 6:49 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

It wasn't your idea, and your colleague told you not to worry about it. Moreover, when you complained to your boss, you were hoping he would fix the problem, not give you a new one; you've demonstrated willingness to have dealt with it yourself.

It would have been a different thing if you'd gone to your boss and been all "I demand you give me a new laptop!" but you didn't. Your colleague can similarly complain to the boss if she doesn't like the laptop either.

I give you permission to let this go.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am... baffled at why your supervisor thought that would do anything but piss off your colleague for no reason. That sort of weirdness makes me think that he might get even worse if you push for anything else, or if you're seen to be pushing Colleague to push for anything else.

Oof. Rock, meet hard place. I'll go with the Empress -- let it go and watch out.
posted by Etrigan at 6:54 AM on June 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Should I ask to switch it back? Persuade the supervisor to order an additional laptop and put the MacBook back in storage?

This will almost certainly annoy your supervisor, and he sounds pretty unreasonable to me, so...I wouldn't take that bet.

Be extra nice to your colleague for a while, and if she hates her new laptop, she can complain. This isn't your fault, and you shouldn't feel bad about (though you're human, and I totally get why you feel bad about it).
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:02 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

What a weird situation but this is not a problem you created, nor is it a problem for you to solve. If your colleague wants to pursue it, she can take it up with her supervisor. It might not even be a problem if she gets the hang of it. Leave it be.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:03 AM on June 18, 2014

This seems pretty unambiguous, I'll let it go. Thanks!
posted by Triton at 7:08 AM on June 18, 2014

I'm a little confused here. Did you not order a laptop? Seems like the MacBook was only supposed to be a temporary thing until the actual laptops came in. If I were offered a choice between a new laptop, customized for me, or an existing MacBook, I'd have opted for the new laptop and maybe used the MacBook only as a temporary thing until it came in.

This was a bad decision on the part of your supervisor. You AND your co-worker got screwed, for no discernible reason other than your supervisor's capriciousness. Your co-worker ordered a laptop customized for her own work and to her own preferences, and now you're getting it?

Unfortunately, you probably have no power to correct the situation. Your co-worker should have stood up for herself, but that's not your problem.

What you do from here depends on if you ordered a laptop or not. If you did order one, then you'll get your laptop eventually and then you can give your co-worker's laptop back to her. If not, I'd approach your supervisor and say it wasn't fair to her, and that you want to order a new laptop.

He may tell you to go pound sand, which, well, at least you tried.
posted by tckma at 7:13 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shoulda just asked for your own laptop when you had the chance. Maybe you still can?

As for the supervisor's decision, could it be that your colleague doesn't need to use the specialist software that you need, and the supervisor's solution was all about matching available resources with folks who need them?
posted by notyou at 7:14 AM on June 18, 2014

I know you said you'll let it go but having someone pissed at you when you're starting a new job isn't good. I'd talk to your boss about how this is creating an awkward situation when you're trying to meld with the team. They may not realize they've put you in a bad position.
posted by Aranquis at 8:07 AM on June 18, 2014

I don't really see anything weird about this situation. It sounds like a boss trying to allocate hardware to make as many people happy as possible. If your co-worker isn't happy, they can bring it up with the boss.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:46 AM on June 18, 2014

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