In growing numbers, businesses are experimenting with the concept of allowing their employees to use their own mobile devices (laptops, cellphones and tablets) at work, for work. Since 2007, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) craze has seen an increase in popularity because it reduces employer costs while increasing productivity by giving employees added flexibility, both personally and professionally.
Moreover, technology research company Gartner Inc. predicts that by 2017, half of today’s employers will require employees to supply their own devices for work. This is a staggering projection, considering 78 percent of U.S. white-collar employees use a mobile device for work purposes, while 60 percent of enterprise workers use a mobile device as their primary means of computing.
So what can you do now to keep up with the BYOD trend?
Give Your Employees Control … Kind Of
According to a recent survey by Cisco, employees prefer BYOD platforms because they gain more control of their work experience while being able to take care of personal matters when needed. Respondents cited that they have a “desire to perform personal activities at work and work activities during personal time.”
The big kicker is that employees are willing to bear the costs associated with these devices just to have more control over their on-the-job time. In fact, Cisco employees pay an average of $600 in out-of-pocket expenses for devices that can serve dual purposes.
Look at Benefits and Costs
If you’re looking to give your employees greater control over their day while reducing overall costs for your organization, this might be a fad on which you’ll want to jump. Cisco estimates that employers can save big dough: $300 to $1,300 annually per employee.
Naturally, challenges exist alongside BYOD’s rewards. Security and IT support are issues to consider, and brand preferences vary. Having support for Apple, Google, BlackBerry and Samsung devices can be cumbersome for IT departments, but many organizations off-load the responsibility back onto the data provider.
Security is a top concern for most IT departments, so make sure they are equipped to maintain secure access across your corporate network. BYOD policies should be set in place to ensure that all your data remains secure. Many recommend that IT should be equipped with the tools to gain visibility into and control such devices on your organization’s network, but make sure this is clearly communicated in your policies.
Go Beyond Traditional
The BYOD phenomenon is driving innovation for CIOs and businesses looking to increase employee accessibility to information and, therefore, new opportunities. With an increase in mobile usage and BYOD platforms, employers now can offer easy online access to employee self-service, benefits, document management and timekeeping platforms used by HR technology vendors. Having these features available to employees on mobile platforms further fuels innovation in the workplace and gives them the added control they desire.
It’s obvious that the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Only time will tell if you continue with a traditionalist approach or succumb to the increasingly popular world of BYOD.