The way we work has always been subject to changes in technology, which come with their own risks, challenges and opportunities. BYOD is just one of many current technological trends that are affecting how we work, but it is one that needs to be carefully considered by both employers and employees.
The rapid development of portable devices, such as tablets, smartphones and hybrid computers has had a number of different effects. On the one hand, it has made it easier for employees to connect anywhere and work on the move; but, on the other, it has led to a blurring of the lines between work and leisure, as employees are now always ‘online’.
The flexibility to work from home is, of course, highly attractive to many. A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that nearly a quarter of Americans now do some of their work from home, and this is a figure that is only likely to increase.
In addition to the greater flexibility that comes with working from home, a BYOD policy also enables employees to use a device that is best suited to their needs, as opposed to one that only offers greater value to the business. Equally, employers no longer have to worry about keeping up with the pace of change in the market.
There are some doubts about the benefits of BYOD at the moment, or perhaps more about the lack of boundaries it might bring with it. In particular, there are concerns about the overlap between work and leisure, with portable devices making it easier than ever to take work home. If using only one device in both settings , some employees can find it hard to switch off mentally, replying to emails and continuing tasks long after they’ve left the office.
To mitigate this strain, companies have devised a number of solutions, coming up with sophisticated ways of making technology work for them and their employees. Automatic out-of-office messages, for example, are one way of relieving the pressure on employees once they leave the office.
Another common concern relates to the impact of BYOD on office culture and cohesion. There is a thought that, if employees are working interchangeably between home and the office, it becomes harder for companies to instil a single, coherent set of values.
In light of other evidence pointing to the clear productivity benefits and then the conversation surrounding security risks associated with BYOD, it’s clear that there’s no simple solution. Any BYOD policy must address a variety of complex issues, ranging from cyber security to the careful management of device obsolescence. Clear guidelines that set out an employee’s responsibility can limit the possibility of stress and uncertainty, and make it possible to harness the productivity gains that BYOD brings about.