The announcement this week that Citigroup will eliminate 52,000 jobs and with other large companies also looking at layoffs, IT departments are going to be forced to deal with hundreds and even thousands of desktops and notebooks that are no longer at use. While the task is daunting, there are several options out there for IT administrators, including recycling older PCs, repurposing desktops and notebooks for those employees who remain, and even donating the unused desktops and laptops.
While there is no one quick or easy solution to the question of what happens
to PCs when layoffs happens, there are a number of options out there once
desktops and notebooks have been inventoried and accounted for by IT managers.
The possibilities of what to do with older PCs or ones no longer in use range
from recycling older desktops and laptops to repurposing machines for new tasks
and even charity donations.
Before looking at what to do with the PCs that are no longer needed, experts
believe the first step is to make sure a company does not buy more desktops and
notebooks than it needs when the economy remains unstable and layoffs loom.
"With hardware, if you purchased it, then you are just stuck with it and you
have to find a way to dispose of it," said Alvin Park, an analyst with Gartner
who examines asset management and IT procurement. "You could resell it or try to
get the vendor to take it, or you could try to cancel orders that you have
placed. However, all this has to be done on a contract-by-contract basis."
The Refresh Cycle
In Park's view, IT managers have to be aware of the company's PC refresh
cycle if and when layoffs are announced. Park advises that IT managers who have
leases from vendors for PCs look at the contract and see if there is a way to
cancel or at least delay an order if those desktops or notebooks are no longer
If an enterprise does eliminate a significant part of its work force, one of
the most direct ways to deal with the leftover desktops and notebooks is to
repurpose those machines either for other tasks or to assign those PCs to other
employees who may have older equipment.
Robert Rosen, CIO for the National
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and an eWEEK
Corporate Partner, said employees who have been let go are taken out of the
active directory to ensure they can no longer access their PC. The desktops are
then re-imaged and made available.
While the work for the IT department can be intensive, Rosen has tried to
ensure that his department uses some automation to cut down on checking each
"The way we are set up, our desktop support people fire off a half dozen re-images
and then go do something else," Rosen wrote in an e-mail. "So while there is a
fair amount of labor, it is not too bad as they don't have to stand there while
it is going on."