Fed up with the benefits of BYOD being limited to a discussion on budget? Me too. Because although it’s hugely important, the real benefits of BYOD are in its impact on our motivation and productivity.
It’s intuitive. We know it to be true that happier, motivated employees are also more productive.
The University of Warwick backed up this intuition. Their study showed a 12% increase in productivity by happy employees. And a 10% drop for unhappy ones.
Increased productivity is to everyone’s benefit. So what can we do to be happier and more motivated in the workplace?
But how can BYOD play a part? And what is BYOD anyway?
What is BYOD?
BYOD means Bring Your Own Device. It refers to the policy of allowing employees to work with their own personally owned devices in the workplace.
Computers, smartphones, tablets, or other devices owned by employees become one of their core devices for use at work.
Smartphones are the most commonly used personal devices in the workplace. Often they are used for taking work calls, accessing emails, and now even as a replacement for PCs.
For example, Continuum enables Smartphones to be used like a PC, by linking to screens and hardware such as a keyboard and mouse.
We are excited to support Continuum, to extend its functionality even further.
BYOD, motivation, and productivity
BYOD has often been attributed with benefits to employee satisfaction.
Easily overlooked – as normally it is mentioned as a side note to BYOD’s impact on IT budgets and workflows.
And whilst those two points are important to the discussion, are we in danger of overlooking one of the core benefits of BYOD?
The benefits and challenges of BYOD
Start a discussion about BYOD, and before long you’ll inevitably get caught up focusing on the challenges. Both for us as individuals and for companies. The benefits get lost.
But to look just at the benefits and ignore the challenges is no good either. We’ll lose all sense of practicality.
Instead, by viewing benefits and challenges side by side, we can come to a more balanced, informed opinion about whether BYOD is right for our situation.
In this post we will look at both the benefits and challenges, which are:
- Working with the device we are most comfortable with (benefit)
- Saving brain power by switching between devices less (benefit)
- Working when and how we want (benefit)
- Ensuring security, privacy, and IT infrastructure (challenge)
- Developing new habits (challenge)
- Maintaining work-life balance (challenge)
Benefit #1 – Work with the device you’re most comfortable with
What is your current favorite device? Your laptop? Phone? Or brand new smartwatch?
For me it is my smartphone. I love the crystal clear screen, its size, battery length, and multi-purpose functionality.
It helps me navigate around town, listen to music while I work, and keep in touch with the team easily from anywhere in the building.
I use it for as many things as possible, because I enjoy the experience of working with it. And I’m fast in everything I have to do with it.
I prefer to complete the same tasks with this device than use any other device to do the same thing.
Which makes total sense.
The luxury of choice
As consumers we choose devices carefully, according to our own particular requirements.
Requirements which might include criteria such as:
- A crystal clear screen
- Low-profile keyboard
- Powerful graphics card
- Running a favorite OS
- A small or large screen
The point is, as consumers we get to choose a device. Whereas, normally, devices employers choose are not usually able to be as personalized.
Working with a favored device is fun, fast, and productive.
Benefit #2 – less switching between devices
How many different devices do you switch between each day?
Two? Three? Four? Even more?
The day may start working with a desktop PC. Then onto a MacBook. Then a different laptop to give a presentation. Then your work phone. Then your personal phone. Then your laptop at home.
That’s six devices.
When you’re forced to begin working with a new device, ever feel like you have to make a mental switch to interact with it?
Getting up to speed with many devices during the day uses up valuable brain power. Power that could be better spent completing tasks.
A benefit of BYOD is that it reduces the number of devices we need to use each day.
Not only are we using devices we enjoy using, by switching mental work-modes fewer times per day, more attention can be given to completing tasks at hand.
Benefit #3 – Work when and how you want
Do you work best with a pair of VR goggles strapped to your face? In the small hours of the morning? Reclining in a bean bag chair?
We each have a unique way of working that gets the best out of us. And we’re often at our happiest and most content when able to work flexibly enough to create those working conditions.
BYOD, by its nature, enables us to work from anywhere, at any time.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearables – all these enable mobility and flexibility.
The same devices we have with us in our personal lives also enable us to access all the information, files, and tools we need to get on with our work.
This removes all ties that bind us to working from one location at a particular time.
And this is important – because, as studies show, flexible working is highly valued by the workforce for many reasons:
- To be more productive and get more done
- For a better work-life balance
- To help deal with family situations
- To enable better health and exercise habits
- Reduce the amount of time spent commuting
- Save money
According to this survey, flexible work arrangements in themselves result in productivity benefits.
Add to that happiness and motivation increases of the other BYOD benefits – and it looks like a powerful proposition.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of BYOD – it’s now time to take a look at the challenges BYOD creates.
Challenge #1 – Security, Privacy, and IT infrastructure
The biggest challenge BYOD presents is perhaps also the most obvious. IT departments within companies must ensure they have proper processes and policies in place to support BYOD.
After all, the technology the team uses must all be secure, compatible, and supportable.
If IT policies and procedures aren’t set up right, we’re not going to be able to get the benefits from BYOD.
Each of the items below need to be addressed.
Security and Privacy Standard Practice
It’s no good if we’re not sure where we stand on acceptable use and incident reporting. We’ve got to know what we can and can’t use our devices for. And what to do if something goes wrong.
Insecurity in our actions does not breed confidence. And we will be hampered in getting on with our work.
If this isn’t clearly spelled out we run the risk of compromising the company’s IT infrastructure. Motivation killer for us and everyone else.
Who owns the device?
Trickier question to answer than it seems. But worthwhile in getting clear.
What happens if a device is damaged in the workplace? Or at home? Who handles the repair?
What if it needs replacing as it’s reached its end-of-life? And what about when you decide to leave the company, what happens to the device then?
All these questions and more need to be clearly thought through and answered. Otherwise motivation will be undermined by anxiety caused by cost implications.
With a wide range of devices, with varying operating systems and security features, the management of these devices needs to be as easy as possible for IT departments.
It’s no good for us if our device or a coworker’s disrupts the network, forcing everyone to slow down in their work.
Working effectively is a lot easier without the hassle of worrying about data security.
IT departments should be able to separate personal data from company data, and use settings and controls to secure any company data stored or accessed on your device.
Easy IT support
There are few things worse than enforced downtime due to support issues.
Yet, with a greater variety of devices used in the workplace, IT departments can expect to receive greater numbers of support requests.
The ability to effectively provide support to BYOD devices is crucial, and ideally should be achieved remotely.
It’s of little help to go through all the effort of ensuring IT is set up to ensure we’re able to fully take advantage of BYOD benefits, if it is not communicated clearly.
When we’re aware of what the playing field looks like, we can start making the most of it.
None of these hurdles are impossible to overcome. But if not thought through thoroughly, we’ll end up undermining the motivation and productivity benefits of BYOD.
Challenge #2 – Forming New Habits
There is only so much that IT departments can do to secure BYOD. The rest is down to us.
This might mean unlearning a whole load of behavior engrained into our lives.
If we can access company data from our own device we must make sure we do so as safely as possible.
How many people do you know who do not even have a lock screen on their smartphone?
And how many accounts and logins do you use the same username and password for?
When withdrawing cash from an ATM we go to pains to make sure no-one looks over our shoulder. This is exactly the same attitude we need when using personal devices that we also use for work.
Better than the alternative
Doing what is necessary to change our personal behavior patterns is far better than the alternative.
Because the alternative is for security features to be installed that hamper the user experience to such an extent that the productivity benefits of BYOD are destroyed.
There must remain a balance between security and usability. And it is within our power as users to keep it that way.
Challenge #3 – Maintaining Work-life Balance
Just because the device we have with us in our personal life is also used for work doesn’t mean that we should always work.
It is so easy to pick up the phone in the evening, or on the weekend and just say to yourself “I’m just going to quickly check my emails.”
Thankfully most of the time when we give into temptation, the result is just a quick flip through with no further action.
But, occasionally you’ll stumble across an email you feel you need to open and read. And you’ll feel compelled to think about the contents of that email or the action you need to take.
That thought then consumes your brain power for that evening. Or the whole weekend.
This is not a useful state of affairs.
Not only are we unable to do anything useful with this information until the next working day, but we are also unable to fully engage with our personal life.
Many studies have shown a link between getting proper rest and relaxation, with improved happiness, motivation, and productivity.
A work-life balance that’s out of sync damages the benefits of BYOD.
Company policies on topics such as these can be useful. But more important is our personal behavior.
How can we make the best use of BYOD today?
Let’s not overlook one of the core benefits of BYOD – its impact on motivation and productivity.
Because using the devices we want, to complete tasks from a location that suits us best, at a time that we’re most productive will lead to huge benefits for us and employers.
But let’s also not overlook the challenges we face in taking full advantage of it either.
Because without the proper IT infrastructure, security and privacy policies, habit forming, or dedication to work-life balance – we won’t be able to make the most of the benefits BYOD brings.
What are your thoughts on BYOD? Leave a comment below!