Salary Survey Extra: Desktop and laptop computers in the workplace
Posted on
February 3, 2022

Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Desktop and laptop computers are part of every IT workstation. Or at least they used to be.

Technology changes fast. IBM launched its first personal computer in 1981 … and bailed out of the PC market altogether in 2005, when it sold its personal computer division to Lenovo. Pioneering computer designer Mark Dean, who helped design and build the IBM model that launched a revolution in 1981, told Computerworld magazine in 2011 that PCs would soon be a thing of the past.

It may happen eventually, and could very well happen within the lifetime of more than a few people reading these words. Workplace technology is fluid. When Certification Magazine was resurrected in 2013, staff members still had compact desktop computers. In 2022, everyone has a laptop and a docking station.

On the other hand, to paraphrase Sam Clemens (or Mark Twain, if you prefer), reports of the demise of desktop — and especially laptop — computers that originated in 2011 were probably “greatly exaggerated.” The funeral is out there, but it’s still too soon to be composing the eulogy or trying to figure out who should be invited.

Smartphones and tablets are the obvious candidate to step in and replace their digital forebears. Both have gradually gotten both more powerful and more cross-functional with traditional desktop and laptop computers. In some people’s minds the question is when — not whether — phones and tablets push laptops to the fringe, and maybe push desktops out of the workplace technology picture entirely.

It’s hard to create a picture without being able to peek into a broad cross-section of IT workplaces. Thanks to the Salary Survey, however, we have an opportunity each year to do just that. So we asked certified IT professionals to what extent, broadly speaking, they are still tied to a more or less conventional desktop and/or laptop computing setup. Here’s what we learned:

Q: How many hours per day do you use a desktop or laptop computer to do your current job?

I never use a desktop or laptop computer. — 0.4 percent
An hour or so per day — 0.8 percent
A couple of hours per day — 3 percent
3 to 4 hours per day — 6 percent
5 to 6 hours
per day — 13.7 percent
7 to 8 hours per day — 30.9 percent
More than 8 hours per day — 22.2 percent
Everything I do requires a desktop or laptop computer. — 23.1 percent

First off, there is a tiny fraction of survey respondents who don’t use a desktop or laptop computer for anything. If that is the future of workplace computing, however, it would seems there’s no need for computer makers to panic. And even when we raise the usage meter all the way to “only” 5 or 6 hours per day,  we’ve capture a little less than 24 percent of the total survey population.

Nearly a third of all survey respondents use a laptop or desktop computer to get IT done for 7 or 8 hours every day. And out of the remaining roughly 45 percent of all survey respondents, 22.2 percent use a desktop or laptop computer more than 8 hours per day, and 23.1 percent use a desktop or laptop computer for every work-related thing they do.

Tablets and smartphones clearly have a role in the IT workplace ecosystem. We’ll have more data about that next week. But the desktops and laptops aren’t on the way out. Or maybe desktop computers are becoming scarcer by the day and laptops are doing the real heavy lifting. Maybe we can attempt to differentiate between the next time that the Salary Survey comes around.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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