To categorize smartphones, laptops, or tablets as ‘office supplies’ is misguided – maybe even ludicrous.
We’re in the midst of a technology boom and somebody’s device is more of an extension of who they are, than it is similar to a stapler or a Bic.
Even though the practice of standard-issue ‘work’ computers no longer makes sense, businesses are still uneasy about letting employees bring their own devices to work. Some of the concerns are valid. It’s harder to police a personal item’s use. It’s harder to control company data and information. Policies have to be created.
But, if you’re adaptive and willing to meet the challenges that the trend poses, you might find that the benefits can outweigh any drawbacks:
Buying (or upgrading to) a new phone is the adult equivalent of finding the latest Nerf gun. You know the one – it shoots foam darts out of three barrels all at once! Just like a kid would sit around and marvel at the features of a new toy, adults spend hours exploring their devices and trying out new things. There’s a deeper preference to a device than there is to nearly all the things we own. We spend the most time with them. We identify with them. We made that decision carefully. For the employee, being able to work with the device they love is an enormous perk. For the employer, a satisfied employee is an enormous payoff.
Along the same lines as preference, there’s value in letting your employees bring a device that they already know how to use with ease. Technology can vary greatly and instead of pouring time and resources into forcing new employees to learn a platform they’re uncomfortable with, let them bring their own. That’s a more productive employee for you and it’s a more comfortable work environment for that employee.
According to PCWorld, companies that embrace BYOD as an option for employees can save ‘as much as $80 per month per user.’ If the bottom line is your thing, that’s a stat that’s impossible to ignore. Imagine your team came to you and said “don’t worry about budgeting for pens, paper, binders, staplers, ink cartridges, notepads, or clipboards this year – we’ll just bring our own.” That’s this, but much much higher savings. Data costs, maintenance, hardware, software, and everything else is covered at the employee’s expense. And they’re glad to do it.
4. Better Tech
An uncomfortable truth about IT departments: many of them are insurmountably behind. It’s a dramatic cost to upgrade technology as quickly as it advances and as a result, many companies don’t. Or, they don’t know they need to. Whether it’s cost or a failure to take advantage of the tech that’s out there, allowing employees to BYOD helps solve it. As a company, you might wind up with access to better tools and more resources than you could have provided (or would know to provide) for your team. In most cases, you’ll get better hardware and users who upgrade their devices and take full advantage of what they can do.
5. More Updates
As mentioned, it’s a tall task to turn over your entire IT infrastructure every year. Technology updates move too fast for most companies to keep up with. But, your employees do and will. While it’s not uncommon to find a dusty Gateway desktop running Windows 98 in the sales bay of a business, very few employees have those in their messenger bags, backpacks or pockets. At no cost to you, you’ll be on the cutting edge of tech anyway.
One of the most underrated aspects of allowing employees to BYOD is the flexibility it provides for both parties. Because there’s no difference between a ‘work’ device and a ‘home’ device, your employee can get work done from anywhere. That can lead to successfully working remotely or working on the road. Whether something needs to be done early morning or late at night, BYOD makes it possible.
Office supplies have their place. Everybody loves a good stapler. But it’s time to stop treating smartphones, laptops, and tablets like they’re a standard-issue, one-type-fits-all tool. They’re not. If you let your employees bring in the device they like and are comfortable with (and are paying for) you’re treating technology as it really is.
You always BYOD when you travel - but have you downloaded the apps that will make your trip easier?