Here’s the device your employees want the most

 In End-User Devices, Hardware, News, SHI News

Some 2.5 billion PCs, tablets, ultramobiles, and mobile phones will ship worldwide in 2014, Gartner projects. And as a result, the typical American worker has more device options today than ever before. Workers combine desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to work more quickly, efficiently, and effectively. But what if employees could only choose one of the four? Which device would they want most?

SHI recently commissioned an online survey conducted by Harris Poll among more than 1,000 U.S. employees (aged 18+) to see what device today’s employees would choose if their employer offered to buy them only one for work: a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The results revealed a surprising range of preferences, including unexpected distinctions by age, geographical region, and more. Here are the highlights:


1. Workers want laptops. Laptops are the most popular device by far, preferred by 41 percent of employees — more than desktops (23 percent), tablets (21 percent), or smartphones (15 percent).

employee device preference: desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone

2. The desktop isn’t dead yet. Despite many obituaries, the desktop takes a surprising share of responses. Nearly a quarter of employees — 23 percent — say they would choose a desktop computer over a laptop, tablet, or smartphone if their employer offered to buy them one device for work. Laptops are most popular among workers, but more employees would choose a desktop than a tablet (21 percent) or a smartphone (15 percent).

Older workers prefer the desktop, including 30 percent of employees 55-64 years old and 24 percent of 45-54 year olds. But a notable number of younger workers also chose the desktop. A fifth of employees both 18-34 and 35-44 would also request a desktop over the other devices.

employee that prefer employer gives them desktop, by age

3. Desktops are about as desirable as tablets in the workplace. Some 23 percent of employees say they would request a desktop over a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, while 21 percent would choose the tablet over the others.

4. Tablets are preferred more often among employees 35-44 years old than other age groups. Nearly a third (30 percent) of this age group say they would request a tablet over the other devices, significantly more than the youngest workers aged 18-34 and those aged 45-54. Among 18-34 year olds, only 17 percent would choose a tablet, as would 18 percent of employees 45-54 years old.

employees that prefer tablets in workplace, by age

In fact, the percentage of 35-44 year olds that would choose a tablet (30 percent) closely follows the percentage that would choose a laptop (37 percent), and easily eclipses those in this age group looking for desktops (20 percent) or smartphones (12 percent).

5. Device preferences vary by region. In the northeast U.S., 70.3 percent of employees would request either a laptop (43.6 percent) or a desktop (26.7 percent). The west region tells a different story: Only 57.9 percent of employees would request a computer, with 36.7 percent opting for a laptop and 21.2 percent seeking a desktop.

In the northeast, 30 percent of employees would request a tablet (16 percent) or a smartphone (14 percent). In the west, however, 43 percent of employees would go mobile, 24 percent by tablet and 19 percent by smartphone.

employee device preference -- desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone -- by region

Which results do you think are most notable? What do you think is driving these trends? Let us know in a comment below.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of SHI International from September 12-16, 2014 among 2,020 adults ages 18 and older, of which 1,026 are employed. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

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