Technology is constantly evolving, growing, and pushing its way into our lives – both personal and professional, as 7 Wireless Trends for 2014 shows. As Generation Y becomes more prominent in the workplace, so will the use of new technology because they are more tech-savvy, they thrive on variety, and the fine line between personal and professional will continue to blur, as described in New Generation Of Employees and Baby Boomers, Gen X, And Gen Y – Workplace Differences.
What does this mean for businesses, though? This means the more employees will want to bring their own devices to use in the workplace…for several reasons:
- Individuals are more comfortable with their own devices.
- Employees usually have much more up-to-date technology than the company does.
- The enjoyment of the increase in mobility their devices allow them.
- Since the line between personal and professional are fading (quickly, I might add), using their own devices allows them to merge the two in a meaningful way.
A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program can be very beneficial for a company for many reasons:
- IT can simplify its infrastructure; a reduction in ongoing end-user device management and support, and fewer troubleshooting tickets will occur.
- BYOD provides a competitive advantage for the company with benefits, such as work flexibility and work-life balance.
- The company is able to attract and retain top performers, and existing employees are more productive and efficient.
- Training costs can be reduced because employees (usually) already know how to use their devices.
Need I continue? I think you get the point.
But what about security of company data? Face it, more than 50% of employees (on average) already use some form of their own device on the company network, whether or not they are “allowed” to, so this is already a question that should have been asked a while ago.
To help overcome security issues, specific processes and rules should be outlined very carefully and include:
- The company’s position on employee-owned devices
- What the employee can and cannot do on their device while connected to the network.
- Password or specific program/application installation on employee-owned devices by IT
- The ability for IT to audit employee usage at any given time
- Clearly outline and define what the company will and will not pay for
- And don’t forget training – something that gives employees all the information they need about a BOYD program (because we all know that no one is going to read a policy handout/book)
You’ll likely have a bumpy implementation while you work out the kinks and figure out what the right balance is for your company. But don’t give up on providing another opportunity that will increase employee retention, especially of top performers.
I have read quite a bit about how companies should not implement a BYOD program because it’ll likely fail, or employee will share sensitive company information via digital media with their friends across town, or that employees will spend all their time on social media sites or playing games on their devices.
My response to these allegations:
- Employees are going to bring their own devices regardless of what the company wants. You might as well embrace the change now and implement some type of security control before you find yourself in a severe security bind.
- If an employee is going to share sensitive information, they will do it regardless of what technology they have at their fingertips. Sharing may increase slightly because of the ease of being able to share immediately, but this isn’t something new for any business.
- If you believe that your employee is going to be on social media sites, playing games, or just goofing off because they have the ability to have their devices at their fingertips…then they are probably already doing this and you should just get rid of them now. Managers should already know who the performers are and who under performs consistently.
It’s going to happen. More and more companies are moving toward technology. The new generation of employees requires the flexibility and work-life balance a BYOD program can offer. Don’t let your company stay in the past.