BYOD is Failing in the Workplace

Picture of Rick DelgadoRick Delgado feels blessed to have had a successful career in the tech industry and has recently taken a step back to pursue his passion of writing. He's started doing freelance writing where he occasionally works with tech companies like Dell Computers. He enjoys writing about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet.

There was a time when the latest and greatest devices were first adopted by large companies. Corporations would issue their employees the new BlackBerry or outfit them with the latest laptops and desktop computers. Today, it’s completely the other way around. With more affordable machines, and the constant rollout of new devices, it’s now the consumer who drives adoption. As a result, this has put IT departments in a bind. They’re constantly having to play catch up, because no one wants to use an outdated machine when they have access to a much better one at home.

The solution? Allow employees to use their personal devices for work. This practice, called Bring Your Own Device (What is BYOD?) permits employees to use their own smartphones, tablets, or whatever at work instead of relying on whatever devices the company provides. While every organization has its own policies and restrictions, at its core, BYOD represents device freedom at work.

You’d think a practice like this would be embraced with open arms. Think about it, we live in a time when we demand constant connectivity. We no longer want to be stuck at a desk in order to do our work. We demand flexibility. We want to work from home, from planes and even from our cars. We want devices that can handle it all, both work and play. Yet despite its glamorous portrayal, BYOD still faces a lot of criticism and reluctancy. Its promises to increase employee morale and improve the workplace environment are offset by concerns with increases in security issues.

Security threats are the primary cause of slow BYOD adoption. Despite employees pushing for greater flexibility, only about 4 percent of UK firms have fully adopted BYOD policies. That’s a pretty disappointing number from a place that is set on becoming the next hub of technological innovation. BYOD is failing in the UK, and it’ll require much needed improvements and changes in 2015 if it hopes to catch up to other countries around the world.

While security is the root of BYOD stagnation, it’s a lack of communication that is further perpetuating the problem. There isn’t enough effective dialogue between employers and employees regarding this issue. As with most breakdowns in communication, this has led to a lot of misunderstanding, and ultimately, the low adoption rate we’re seeing.

Many companies are looking to allow outside devices, but most of the time it comes with restrictions. Some companies may only allow certain types of devices or specific brands, while others require employees to install security software or apps on their personal machines. Employees don’t like this. They fear these applications will compromise their personal information, track their location, or monitor their browsing patterns. Ultimately, they feel it’ll infringe on their personal rights. They don’t quite understand the extent to which employers will tap into their devices. Most of the time, this is because employers don’t communicate policies clearly, and the purpose behind security applications.

One of the most effective ways of overcoming this problem is by creating an open forum where employees can deliberate with management about their concerns. Remember to make sure IT is included during these conversations, so they can address concerns, clarify worries and hopefully decrease doubt and ambiguity. Once a consensus has been made, make sure it’s public and available for everyone to read and re-read. Call it a BYOD Bill of Rights, or something like that. Make sure it clearly outlines rights on both sides, and what is permitted and forbidden. This will help make sure current employees follow the rules, and that new hires understand what expectations are, so there are no surprises.

Eventually, there will need to be compromise on both ends. It’s unrealistic for employees to expect ultimate freedom when they’re dealing with company information. At the same time, employers can’t expect to transform personal devices into corporate devices, defeating the overall purpose behind BYOD.

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