Do you let employees follow the new norm--BYOD (bring your own device)? While traveling, do they use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops to keep up with business email, work on company projects or contact clients? If not, you are not only behind times; you are missing out on a productive opportunity that is fast becoming expected in the workplace.
BYOD is a rising trend, according to a study by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. Almost 90% of companies, from small to corporate, let employees use their own connected gadgets and devices at all times, including travel. It’s a mobile world with fewer rules -- and new opportunities.
Most employees are ready for BYOD, according to the Cisco research. Employees see mobile devices as a way to improve their work/life balance, the study says.
Road-warrior entrepreneurs have long known that access to company resources while out of the office is a necessity. A laptop, or a desktop with a remote access, was the most common method. A more recent trend is the explosion of connected devices -- both personal and company-provided – enabling the accessing company resources on-premises or in the cloud.
At the same time, BYOD represents numerous management and security challenges. Companies must take measures to ensure that infrastructure and privileged corporate data are safe from malicious actors, as well as in compliance with government and corporate data protection and storage policies, regardless of device type or location. I agree with recent research findings from Gartner Group: “If you are offering BYOD, take advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organization the benefits it will bring to them and to your business.” With that said, below is our unofficial list of the “Top 5 Reasons BYOD is Here to Stay”:
Increased Productivity. Allowing your employees to use personal devices for business can give them the flexibility they crave to concentrate on that business on their own timeline. Using their own devices can allow your employees to organize their business e-mail and respond to messages that have been building up during a road trip on the same smartphone, tablet, or laptop they use to view the latest pictures of the new baby and social media postings.
Productivity, viewed as time savings by employees, was the main reason given for liking BYOD, according to the Cisco report.
Appeal for Workers, Young and Older. Companies who do not consider implementing BYOD risk losing out on Generation Y, also called the Millennials. This group of younger workers has always had ready access to the Internet and connected devices.
Your Gen Y workers are thoroughly indoctrinated in the world of multi-tasking. BYOD gives them the outlet they need to stay interested and productive. Within the next few years, “Gen Z” will be even more demanding with an increase in interconnectedness.
To be clear, older workers are not left out of the equation. BYOD gives the opportunity for many tasks to be completed from home if that is your worker’s choice. Work from home appeals to other groups as well and gives your company an edge in attracting quality employees that might not be able to work the normal day at the office.
Lower IT Costs. The BYOD trend has been called “The Consumerization of IT” and is becoming popular fast in large corporations and government agencies. By letting employees bring their own device to work, your costs decrease as you centralize applications and company data for access via personal devices. You can also avoid the expense and worker disruption of upgrading hardware every few years.
BYOD will in some ways reverse the role of IT through the training of your workers to be more self-supporting instead of sending out distress calls to IT.
Reduces Security Risk. Carrying a company phone or tablet often means your employee is carrying the keys to the company, which could lead to unthinkable loss and consequences. The employee’s device can better be used as a thin client “viewer” --keeping your business more secure.The idea is that pre-BYOD, the company issued laptops/devices (even phones) that had sensitive company info actually residing ON the device.
In a BYOD environment, you can’t let that info go onto personal devices, so you move everything to a cloud-based setup.
That way, the employee’s device is just a tool to access the (cloud-based) corporate info. If it gets lost or stolen, even if they get password or authentication compromised, you just remove the device’s access.
The bottom line is introducing BYOD to your company should be more than an invitation to “Start your devices!” Security is a big issue, with safety measures your employees will need to learn.
A training session covering password safety, wiping business information from phones and other issues is needed. Access to apps is essential to prevent hacking and other nasty threats. Small businesses and entrepreneurs should consider a policy where no business data is stored on devices and avoid some of the headaches altogether.
Work Anywhere. BYOD promotes use of the personal device, silently encouraging your workers to perform a few administrative tasks from home. The phone or tablet is not left at the office on weekends or nights or stowed away until Monday morning.
Business emails will pop up on the employee’s phone along with personal messages and receive attention in off-hours, enhancing your company’s position by providing extra information and support. Your employees won’t have to go to the office to handle problems at night or on weekends, which will be appreciated.
More than half of those who responded to Cisco’s survey see mobile devices as a way to improve their “work/life balance.” That’s an impressive number indicating a strong desire on the part of workers to take some charge over when and where they work.