These days, asking someone to leave their mobile device at the door is like suggesting that a fish go a day without water. Whether it’s our phones, tablets, laptops or watches, most of us feel as dependent on our devices as we do air. It doesn’t matter if we are out to dinner, on top of a mountain or in a meeting—we can’t help but wonder what we’re missing on the screens tucked away in our pockets and briefcases.
It makes sense then that progressive employers the world over are embracing—and even capitalizing on—today’s device-dependent culture by implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives in the workplace. Because with the promise of increased productivity, lowered costs, and happier employees, why not?
Well, there are a few reasons…
First of all, BYOD policies are likely to represent a massive headache for your IT department. With compatibility issues to tackle on top of looming security risks, BYOD may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Particularly in an eLearning environment with mobile learning, these factors threaten business communication and have the potential to disrupt training operations in a big way.
So before your business takes the BYOD plunge, consider these pros and cons.
People like using their own devices—even for work-related tasks and learning. The only thing employees love more than being able to use mobile devices at work is being able to use their own devices. There is something about using your own phone, tablet, or laptop that is simply more comfortable and, studies have shown, more efficient. BYOD policies often mean more time for work to be completed and less time spent fiddling with unfamiliar, company-issued devices.
With any number of different devices being used in the workplace, compatibility becomes an issue. BYOD companies have to be prepared to support a huge range of devices and platforms. Depending on the size of your business, it’s possible that no two employees will be using the same type, model or version of a device at any given time. Your systems will need to run smoothly on a variety of platforms, taking into consideration everything from variations in screen size to an individual employee’s browser of choice. As if keeping up with today’s devices wasn’t a challenge enough, there’s also the future to consider. Because even the most popular device can end up having the shelf-life of a mayfly, you’ll need to be prepared to tweak it all over again in a year or two.
Employees pay for their own devices. This one is simple. BYOD means transferring the cost of purchasing, maintaining and replacing devices from the employer to the employee. And that means more money—a lot more—in your pocket. Need I say more?
BYOD policies invite major security risks. In a recent interview for CLOmedia, Rebecca M. Abrahams, chief communications officer for Ziklag Systems LLC, a mobile security technology company, pointed out that for any business, protecting sensitive information is a crucial priority. “This means you worry about people getting a hold of your company emails, reading your text messages or listening in on conversations, especially if important board meetings or strategy sessions can be compromised.” With BYOD, this becomes an even greater concern, because of the inevitable mix of work and play. When your employee goes home for the day—or leaves the company for good—your information, unfortunately, goes with them.
Like our love for all things backlit and palm-sized, the BYOD trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. But is it right for your business?