Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is now a familiar trend and it’s here to stay. BYOD is the practice of allowing members of an organisation to use their own computers, smartphones, or other devices in a work environment. It is being adopted in businesses, as well as other settings such as hospitals and universities.
While initially met with concern due to IT security and risk to sensitive business systems, it is increasingly understood and regulated by IT departments. As internal policies become more effective, skepticism is giving way to clarity about the potential to drive efficiency and other opportunities.
Obviously, there is a cost-cutting benefit to employers when employees use their own devices, but BYOD also positively affects productivity.
Employees that are mobile and connected can accrue extra minutes throughout the day to attend to work tasks. A survey entitled The Financial Impact of BYOD by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) found that: “The average BYOD user across countries saves 37 minutes per week thanks to using his or her own device, with a high of 81 minutes per week in the United States and a low of 4 minutes per week in Germany.” Mere minutes they may be but if a company has a large number of employees the hours will soon stack up.
However BYOD is only as good as the connectivity that links it to the network, and having WiFi easily accessible both in and out of the workplace, travelling to a meeting, or waiting for it to begin, no longer means wasted time. Employees work longer and harder because they have access to BYOD.
Working can be done anytime, anywhere. Last year a survey concluded that: “A BYOD-carrying employee works an extra two hours and sends 20 more emails every day. One out of three BYOD employees checks work email before the official start of their work day, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.” Added to which, we work faster and more comfortably when we use our own devices, and there is no down time “getting to know” hardware.
It could also be argued that many employees see BYOD as a perk. Making their working life more convenient, it underlines their employer’s flexible, forward-thinking approach. Could this boost morale and, as a knock-on effect, encourage employees to give a little extra?
Where any device accesses or stores corporate data, security is obviously paramount. Before giving BYOD the green light, employers should carry out a full risk assessment against a variety of threats, and tighten security accordingly.
Ensuring that WiFi is secure and can be easily accessed by all is crucial. Other mitigations – including anti-malware, encryption, passcodes, remote wipe and sandboxing – enable organisations to reap the usability benefits of BYOD while securing company data.
On one hand, by giving employees what they want, employers benefit from satisfied staff who make the best use of their time. On the other hand, a clear policy must be in place with complete transparency on what is expected from employees. Do we really want everyone working around the clock?
In my opinion, BYOD is a natural progression in a world that is moving towards cloud-based technology and collaborative working. Instead of standing in the way of consumerised mobility, best way forward for organisations is to understand the risks and maximise the benefits. In productivity terms, BYOD is a clear winner.
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Gavin Wheeldon, CEO, Purple WiFi
Image Credit: Max Griboedov/Shutterstock