Employees of today’s 21st century workplace have become more mobile and tech-savvy, and globalisation has increasingly blurred the lines between home and office. To tackle this phenomenon, many organisations have adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies with the assumption that allowing the use of personal devices at work would improve employee satisfaction and productivity, while reducing organisational expense. Research by Gartner, a leading technology analyst firm, suggests that 90 per cent of organisations will provide support for BYOD[i] in some form or other.
Despite its advantages, BYOD is a double-edged sword that creates a relationship that is tenuous between organisation and employees, and comes with costs; security, as well as the burden on IT departments to manage a multitude of devices and models are the top two concerns. Through this year, Gartner predicts that 75 per cent of mobile applications will fail basic security tests[ii], observing that enterprises are generally inexperienced in the area of mobile security.
As the industry evolves, so should the policies. The practice of CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) has risen in recent years. While it still offers employees the freedom of choosing their preferred machine, the main difference is that they are allowed a choice from a range of devices that have been pre-screened and approved by the company.
While CYOD does not offer organisations the same level of expense reduction afforded by BYOD, the investment is justified by the massive security benefits offered in return. With CYOD, administrators are able to install the appropriate security software and firewalls needed to ensure data remains safe. With appropriate tagging procedures, it is also easier to keep track of equipment.
Supporters of the BYOD and CYOD trend champion increased productivity as employees now have the freedom to work with a machine they are most comfortable with. However, such policies do not necessarily make the system mandatory for either employee or organisation. It should offer a clear outline on the individual’s expected responsibilities and potential consequences of adopting either BYOD or CYOD.
Multiple routes to increased productivity
Over the past few years work-life balance has become more difficult to achieve. If not addressed properly, it could then lead to employee burnout and subsequently a decrease in productivity. Personal technology could be a large contributing factor as it is more intertwined with work technology; employees use their personal devices to access work networks, systems, and/or emails, treading a fine line tread between work and play as devices are used in both aspects of daily life.
By understanding this recent form of employee behaviour, human resources should take note of employee conduct because the use of such devices for personal time during work hours is nearly impossible to police.
Games, apps and other distractions such as social media notifications being so readily available on employees’ devices may also negatively impact productivity should companies choose to embrace the trend. This issue is minimised with CYOD – by offering employees their choice of a set of pre-approved devices, companies can retain an element of control over security and employee usage by restricting the types of apps allowed on a machine.
Addressing Employee Satisfaction
Differentiated spending power between employees could also pose a threat to productivity and morale in the workplace. Individuals willing to spend more on their personal devices have an increased likelihood of access to faster, more powerful machines. On the other end of the spectrum, those without such spending power may find themselves constrained by devices with lesser capabilities, leading to a limitation in the working power of individuals who would otherwise perform well if given access to a more advanced machine.
Therefore, employee satisfaction is also a more manageable factor when CYOD is involved as opposed to BYOD, and the benefits are three-fold:
Firstly, an individual’s spending power – a deeply personal subject in the workplace – is no longer called into question. In addition, depending on the range chosen by the organisation, companies need not make purchases of multiple types of devices for those who need them.
Secondly, innovative multimode capabilities, such as those found on Lenovo’s devices, allow users to switch between different device modes to adapt to different situations and allow uninterrupted productivity. This translates to a win-win situation for both parties – users can still enjoy freedom in how they choose to use the device, and the organisation enjoys cost savings by only having to purchase one device with multiple functions.
Last but not least, having a separate machine for work which reduces the integration of professional duties with personal devices means that work-life balance is more readily achievable. Employees can more easily put aside their ‘work machines’ when office hours are over.
BYOD – A Fair-weather Friend?
Although BYOD may eventually become a requirement in organisations worldwide as employees will typically want to use their devices for both work and personal reasons, it is up to organizations to evaluate the trend’s potential impact on both its corporate environment and workforce. It is vital that strict processes to safeguard against data leaks and other similar security threats are implemented and adhered to in order to keep employees, customers and the business safe from risks. Should the risks outweigh the benefits of BYOD, it may be time to bid the toxic friendship to BYOD adieu after all.
- Tan Ai Sim, Head of Human Resources of Lenova SEA -