One of the hottest buzzwords in IT over the last several years has been BYOD. This policy, which allows employees to bring their own devices to work and use them as their work computers, has grown to be seen as both a way to cut IT costs and as a morale-boosting perk. And as devices have grown smaller, more portable, and more mobile, bring-your-own-device policies are set to grow.
The question being raised more and more is, is the BYOD policy really good news for companies? Sure, there might be some savings to be had, but are there downsides? And if there are, do those downsides outweigh the benefits of letting employees use personal devices as work devices? In this article, we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of a BYOD policy to see if it’s right for your business.
Pro – Improved Productivity
Most people are used to the particular quirks and configurations of their own devices, and can work better, faster, and more efficiently on their own laptops, phones, and tablets. Letting employees bring and use their own devices as their work machines can make your employees perform noticeably better.
Users are also much more likely to have more cutting edge hardware and software, meaning you get the benefit of more advanced technology without spending IT budget on it. Your employees are also much more likely to upgrade their devices more frequently than even a very aggressive IT schedule.
You get the benefits of better employees on better hardware, without having to grow your IT budget.
Pro – Boosted Morale
Employees love being able to use their own devices. Being able to use a device that THEY choose, instead of an arbitrary device assigned to them by the IT department, gives your employees a sense of investment in their device. Moreover, your employees will be much more satisfied about not having to carry around multiple devices.
Con – Smaller Savings than Most Realize
While there can be some savings to be had in a BYOD policy, largely from shifting upgrade and device costs over to your employees and away from your IT department, these savings aren’t nearly as large as most companies imagine them to be. Device costs are often a very small, fixed percentage of your overall IT budget, and eliminating this one line item (especially if you only include mobile phones or tablets in the BYOD policy) will rarely make a huge dent in your budgetary goals.
Con – Increased IT Security and Maintenance Costs
Often, the savings of shifting hardware costs to employees is more than compensated for with increased costs in security and maintenance. Letting individual employees decide on their own devices means having an IT staff trained on multiple operating systems, configurations, and platforms. That can get both tricky and expensive as the IT department can be forced to make compromises on the kinds of software it recommends for work functions and security.
Speaking of security, letting employees use their devices for personal business can open them up to viruses, malware, and other exploitation by the darker side of the net. If an employee catches a computer virus on his personal laptop, then plugs that into to the office intranet, it can mean an expensive cleanup for IT if they aren’t properly set up to secure each and every connection.
A BYOD policy is not really a cost-cutting measure, and it should not be approached as such. It can be an effective way to boost morale. It’s also a great way to add one more perk or benefit to recruit a highly in-demand workforce. BYOD policies can come with a host of problems, though, and can actually increase your IT costs. It’s important to know the costs that go along with the industry buzz-words before making a decision.