The Pros and Cons of “BYOD” at Work

The workplace is changing; employees are no longer tied to their desks or offices. As the trend of remote and mobile working continues to grow, it’s important for organizations to allow their employees to make personalized choices about the technology they use in remote and mobile settings. That’s why BYOD – or “bring your own device” – has become an essential element in how we work.

On the positive side, BYOD can encourage teamwork and collaboration activities, which are often spontaneous in current work settings. Having personal devices handy makes it easier for employees to share information, call up documents on demand, and make changes to documents on the fly. It is also important for employees to be comfortable with the technology they are using in order to reach their full potential as a worker.

This growing trend doesn’t come without its challenges. For example, there’s a greater range of devices with a greater range of applications and content sharing approaches. This has led to more security and compatibility issues and overall governance for the IT support professionals. From the employees’ perspective, there is also a perception that if they have 24/7 connection to work through these devices, they must answer when a call or email comes through. This has even sparked lawsuits over the value of employees’ time.

Despite these potential pitfalls, BYOD is a great tool for companies who want to motivate their employee base, promote collaboration among teams, and offer flexible work strategies, especially for top performers. Additionally, companies can put in place smart and strategic guidelines to help mitigate these risks.

At Steelcase, we’ve seen great success with our BYOD program. We’ve approached our BYOD program as voluntary, meaning employees can choose to use the BYOD program and receive a stipend but buy their own handset hardware, or they can choose to have a standardized hardware device that’s company issued. In our Americas region, almost half of the mobile phone users have chosen the BYOD program. They’re enthusiastic about choosing their own technology for mobile phones.

Additionally, almost all of the people choosing the BYOD program select SmartPhones as their technology of choice. Frequent travelers consistently comment how much productive they can be with a SmartPhone as they travel.

In an ideal setting, people in the workplace have choice and control when it comes to the technology that they use and therefore want to purchase their own technology, perhaps partly from a personal technology budget provided by their employer and partly from their own pocket. It’s important that organizations adapt to these trends and insure that personal technology seamlessly integrates with corporate business systems and networks. This will be a substantial challenge for global IT organizations to face.

We’re eager to hear from you. Does your organization support BYOD? What challenges or successes can you share? Please let us know in the comments section.

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