BYOD is still being referred to as a new workplace trend when, in fact, it has become the new norm for many workplaces all over the world. Bring your own device to work (BYOD) is a recent tendency brought on by the fast growing market penetration for smartphones, tablets and notebooks, that allows employees to utilize personal devices to perform their job.
Ovum research shows that approximately 57% of employees worldwide are accessing company data on a personal device.
Why employees love it
Some of the main reasons why this trend has picked up so quickly and why it’s expected to increase to a $181 billion industry by 2017 (MarketsandMarkets) is because it offers flexibility and cost reduction.
Employees choose BYOD for choice of device, apps and the ability to have both their personal life and their professional one in the same place. They decide what, how and when work is done, gaining a huge autonomy over their working modus.
Also, in using their personal phones or tablets for work, they don’t need to juggle multiple gadgets, and they frequently get a portion of their monthly charges reimbursed by their employer.
Working hours are no longer a constraint for many workplaces, allowing employees to establish their own working schedule and making BYOD the new normal. According to Microsoft, 71% of BYOD require technology that enables employees to work anywhere at any time.
As Ovum research shows, employees believe that being able to access their business information outside working hours enables them to be better in their job.
It has become clear that employees want the consumer experience even when they are at work. The familiarity drives their productivity and sense of freedom.
Research from workspace provider Regus reveals that flexible working is the key to long-term happiness at work. 74% out of 2,200 senior managers and business owners surveyed see flexibility as a way of improving business productivity.
An immense advantage for employers. Employees buy their own devices, driving lower mobility costs and IT resources.
“You can basically outsource your I.T. department to Apple.”
Ben Reitzes, analyst with Barclays Capital
According to a study by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, U.S. companies can save as much as $3,150 per employee per year if they implement a “comprehensive” BYOD program. At the same time, employees are spending an average of $965 on their devices as well as $734 each year on data plans.
The 2,415 mobile users from 6 countries who were part of this study were also asked to estimate how much time they saved each week using their personal devices. The answer – around 4 minutes in Germany to 81 minutes in the United States.
To be fair though, analysts warn that the costs vary from company to company, depending on communications-related expenses as well as productivity gains.
Why employers have started to dread it
For every pro there is a con with BYOD. With flexibility comes the issue of security and with cost reduction come infrastructure problems.
These are some of the most well-known risks with BYOD:
- Most businesses don’t have a formal BYOD policy and are not prepared for damage control;
- Devices can easily be lost or stolen, allowing company information to leak;
- Data security – anyone can access these devices. Also they are not always backed-up;
- Tech support is often required but there are so many devices and systems that it just becomes a huge nightmare;
- Ownership of information isn’t always decided;
- Compatibility issues with your organization’s required suite of programs and apps;
- Use of unauthorized apps;
You can easily understand why some CIOs are also calling it Bring Your Own Disaster. But that doesn’t make it less of a reality.
To support this new reality, Cisco has worked with IT managers to find some solutions to the issues listed above. Here’s what they would advise:
- Ensuring that the devices used to access the corporate network are safe and are not jail-broken or rooted. They should not have threatening malware, spam, or applications that can compromise the corporate network or data;
- Making sure users and devices that are accessing the corporate network on-premise or off-premise can be identified and allowed connectivity only if they are authorized and meet company policy;
- How secure access with client-based or clientless access is ensured for data loss prevention with encryption or containerization with VPN optimized for efficient application delivery and capabilities;
- Device-level security functionality such as remote wipe/lock with integrated Network Access Control (NAC) ensuring that an action can be taken on non-compliant devices at any time (not just during access);
- Having visibility into users, devices, and the applications they are running on the corporate network;
- Having a strategy for protecting business data on all devices whether corporate managed or employee self-supported and managed.
But is BYOD increasing employee engagement?
What’s of particular interest to us and to HR managers is whether BYOD has a positive impact on employee engagement.
So far we know that BYOD appears to make employees feel more at home in their workplace and also be more productive. BYOD employees report an increase of 37 minutes of productive time per week, while BYOD implementation generates $350 of value per mobile employee annually (Cisco).
Other sources indicate that enterprise costs for supporting a BYOD worker would climb to $300 annually by 2016, up from $100 currently (Gartner).
According to Capgemini Consulting, the major benefits from BYOD include improved employee convenience and satisfaction, increased employee productivity, greater workforce mobility and employee retention as well as higher agility in business operations.
BYOD also seems to increase workplace satisfaction. 83% of skilled workers with access to flexible IT policies say they are satisfied with their work, compared with 62% of their counterparts who are not enjoying flexible IT conditions (Deloitte).
Every company should form their own opinion on BYOD. The results are never the same for everyone. What’s clear is that employees are using their own devices at the office and outside of it, blurring the line between personal time and working time. And they’re happier and more productive with this arrangement.
There are significant security issues at stake that should be addressed in a comprehensive BYOD policy (even a meeting or a discussion, not necessarily a monumental document).
What’s your experience with BYOD in the workplace?