BT details success of PC loan scheme

30,000 PCs have been taken home by staff as part of a tax-free benefit scheme that's meant to increase productivity, staff retention and technical literacy

BT has loaned 30,000 PCs to staff for home use as part of its policy to encourage flexible working and raise digital literacy levels in the two years it has been taking part in the government's Home Computing Initiative (HCI).

HCI schemes allow employers to loan computing equipment to their employees for personal use at home as a tax-free benefit. Under the terms of HCI schemes staff are able to lease new PCs with a fee deducted from their salary each month.

BT is also offering cheap desktop software for staff to install on their home PCs as part of its Software Assurance licensing deal with Microsoft, as well as cheap broadband packages.

To date, almost 18,000 of the telco's 80,000 workforce have taken up the option of paying £20 — instead of the retail price of £200 — to install Microsoft Office on their home PC, and BT employees are still signing up for the offer at the rate of 200 per month.

BT said it implemented the home-use scheme to encourage IT literacy at every level of the organisation, including its employees' families, as well as using the scheme to help with recruitment, retention and motivation of staff.

David Wilson, head of people and policy at BT, said: "Some of our employees didn't even have a PC at home and from an employee benefit it is a very cost effective way of buying software. I can go and sit down at my desk at home using the same software as at work."

Microsoft introduced the home-use benefit into its much-maligned Assurance programme in 2003 in an attempt to placate disgruntled users angry at high software upgrade costs and a lack of benefits.

A major shake-up overhauled Software Assurance last year, and Microsoft announced more changes this week.