- Use Cases
- Why Dizzion
Remote working is a growing trend. From 2012 to 2016 the percentage of people who work remote full time increased five percentage points (15% to 20%), according to a Gallup report. While enabling employees to work remotely presents a host of benefits for organizations (such as greater access to quality talent and lower overhead costs), it leaves the question of how to provision these remote workers with secure endpoint devices.
Some organizations have embraced the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend. But organizations that want more control over the endpoint, are concerned about top-level security, need to abide by compliance standards (like HIPAA or PCI) or simply don’t want to put the burden on their workforce have little choice but to ship each remote worker a company-issued device.
This practice can add considerably to the total cost of ownership for desktops, but the exact cost can be difficult to predict and easy to underestimate. How much does it cost to provide company-issued devices to remote employees? Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to spend and some key considerations.
While smaller form factor endpoint solutions (like thin and zero clients) are an option, if an organization is shipping endpoints to remote users, it’s often sending a laptop. Before you can mail a laptop to an end user, you need to purchase it.
According to PC Mag’s Best Business Laptops of 2018, a typical laptop organizations might use ranges from $535 (the Lenovo ThinkPad 13) to $1,299 (for the lowest end Macbook Pro 13). Looking at all 10 of the laptops highlighted by PC Mag, the average cost of a business laptop can be reasonable estimated at $1,054.
The #1 laptop recommended by PC Mag (and the only one to get a full 5-stars), was the HP Spectra x360 13, which starts at $1,199.99. While the price tag is a bit higher than average, this PC may get an extra edge toward being a popular business machine because HP is also the top manufacturer worldwide, capturing 21.8% of the market for shipped PCs in 2017. Average costs may also go up based on the use case and required computing power.
Average cost of a laptop: $1,054
Once the laptop has been purchased and provisioned, it needs to be shipped to the end user. For this, there are several options. To give a range of possibilities and pricing, let’s look at shipping via FedEx versus USPS.
Shipping is based on the size and weight of a package plus its destination. Using the specs of the 10 laptops PC Mag named best for business, the average laptop measures 12.78” x 8.82” x .61” (WxHxD) and weighs about 3.1lbs. The size and weight of the packaging also needs to be taken into account along with the additional cost of shipping insurance since you’re mailing a fragile, expensive item.
Average size of a laptop: 12.78” x 8.82” x .61” (WxHxD)
Average weight of a laptop: 3.1lbs
FedEx has a $23 “Laptop Box” that features built in padding to protect the computer during transport. This box measures roughly 20”x16”x5”, making it able to fit the average laptop easily with additional padding. However, the specialty box weighs in at 1.7lbs, adding more weight to the shipping. That brings the average shipping weight to 4.8lbs.
Shipping options with FedEx range from “FedEx First Overnight” to “FedEx Ground” and have a large price discrepancy. Shipping across the United States (from San Francisco to New York City) with the size and weight detailed above ranges from $250 to $54 and could take up to five days. Shipping about halfway across the country (from San Francisco to Lincoln, NE) isn’t much cheaper, ranging from $203 to $34 with the slowest option taking four days. The mid-range option – FedEx 2Day AM – comes in at $169 for SF to NYC and $106 for SF to Lincoln. Plus the cost of the specialty laptop box.
Average cost of mailing a laptop (with specialty box) across the country: $192
Average cost of mailing a laptop (with specialty box) halfway across the country: $129
Cheapest option to mail a laptop (with specialty box) across the country: $77
Cheapest option to mail a laptop (with specialty box) halfway across the country: $57
Estimated cost of shipping a laptop overnight (with specialty box) across the country: $273
Estimated cost of shipping a laptop overnight (with specialty box) halfway across the country: $226
Organizations that prefer the United States Postal Service will find that shipping a laptop is less expensive, but maybe not as cheap as expected.
USPS’ Medium Flat Rate Box measures roughly 14”x12”x3”, large enough to fit the average laptop but not leaving much room for padding and protection. Priority 2-Day shipping with this flat rate box, plus added fees for shipping a fragile item and $1000 insurance to cover the cost of the machine bring the shipping rate to $38 anywhere in the country.
If you want to pack the laptop in your own box to give it some more protection, the cost will creep up. Assuming the box you choose is roughly the size of FedEx’s specialty laptop box it is considered a large package by USPS (because the longest side is more than 12 inches). Using the same dimensions and weight used for the FedEx calculations and the same fragile and $1000 insurance fees for USPS, shipping from San Francisco to New York City ranges from $88 for Priority Mail Express 1 Day to $48 for both Priority 3 Day and Retail Ground. Shipping halfway across the country in your own box is only $5-$7 cheaper.
Cheapest option to mail a laptop with USPS across the country (using a USPS Flat Rate Box): $38
Cheapest option to mail a laptop across the country using your own box: $48
1-Day shipping with USPS (using your own box): $88 (not accounting for the box cost)
While it may be tempting to save money by choosing a slower shipping method, it’s important to remember the when employees are without a computer they’re not being productive. This applies when first provisioning the remote worker with their end point and in instances that the laptop needs to be shipped back to the office for an IT or maintenance issue (which are often unpredictable).
Remote trouble shooting is the first response in situations like this, which means the employee has already experienced downtime before the decision is made to ship a replacement device, plus the provisioning time it takes to prepare that device for that particular end user. To mail an employee a replacement laptop, you’re looking at a minimum of one full workday of downtime (if you opt for the fastest and most expensive shipping options) plus whatever downtime was accrued during trouble shooting and replacement provisioning.
The average annual salary of a US-based call center representative – a job that is increasingly done remotely – is $29,541, making the hourly rate around $14. Assuming a day of troubleshooting (if you don’t have the right tools to pinpoint issues), a day for provisioning the new endpoint and at least one day for shipping, the cost of lost productivity totals roughly $336 for a call center rep, plus the cost of lost revenue that representative could have generated. For knowledge-based workforces, this cost can go much higher.
Organizations that supply remote employees with a company-issued laptop need a clearly defined process in place for dealing with machines that need to be returned for maintenance. Key questions include:
If you want to make sure the laptop will be secure on the return trip, you should mail remote employees the appropriate box. If you’re mailing them a replacement they can use the same box their new laptop arrived in. But if they are returning a laptop without a replacement (i.e. no longer with the organization), you should supply an empty box or cover the cost of professional packing to ensure the laptop is returned in good condition. The most affordable option to mail an empty laptop box is via USPS Retail Ground, which ships across the country for $12.73 in about five business days. If the box needs to get to the end user faster, USPS Priority Mail Express 1 Day will cost $43.15 for the empty box
The cost of replacing a remote endpoint:
# of hours of downtime x Employee’s hourly rate (and lost potential revenue, if known)
+ Cost of new laptop + Cost of shipment for replacement device + Shipment cost of returned laptop
Putting that all today, what’s it actually cost to mail report employees a laptop. Let’s look at an example of provisioning an employee halfway across the country and assuming that endpoint needs to be replaced once during the employee’s tenure.
Average cost of a laptop: $1,054
Cost of a specialty, protective Laptop Shipping Box (from FedEx): $23
Initial shipping cost (3 days via USPS): $44
Average cost to ship a replacement laptop overnight via FedEx (plus cost of a specialty box): $226
Cost of retrieving initial endpoint following replacement (slowest FedEx option): $34
Lowest cost option to mail employee empty box for final endpoint return (slowest USPS option, plus cost of specialty box): $33
Lowest cost option for final return shipment (slowest FedEx option): $34
Total average cost of supplying remote employees with a laptop: $1,448
That doesn’t factor in downtime due to troubleshooting, the cost of storing endpoints when not in use or the time and resources needed for provisioning and remote maintenance (patching, updates, etc.). Taken together, the cost of providing remote employees with laptops continues to grow.