According to industry surveys, the enterprise trend towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which allows employees to use their own mobile device to perform their jobs, is increasing employee engagement and satisfaction.
Research indicates that around 57% of employees worldwide access company data using a personal smartphone or tablet, and around 38% of companies will no longer issue corporate mobile devices as from 2016. BYOD is clearly on the rise, and there are many benefits both for businesses and their staff members.
For an employee, the ability to use his or her own mobile device at work offers well documented advantages. Many people feel that their mobile device is an integral part of their make-up; it offers familiarity, convenience and satisfaction, all factors which can enhance their productivity. People “master” their own device and it eliminates the need to switch to corporate computing devices which often function differently, a factor that may well cause some frustration and inconvenience.
However, BYOD also carries with it some serious risks, particularly in regard to security. Personal data and company data, although it can be well separated, will exist on the same portable device. Smartphones can be lost or stolen. For this reason, organisations need to ensure that sensitive corporate data is not kept on employee mobile devices.
Benefits of BYOD
More and more, workers believe they should not need to be present in the office in order to access project data, contact lists and other essential business information, and that being able to access this information outside of working hours enables them to perform better at their job.
BYOD provides the ability for employees to work from home or from outside the office, which facilitates flexible working arrangements, and improves employee satisfaction in that people can better manage the requirements of their personal and work life. They decide what, how and when work is done, gaining a huge autonomy over their work.
Choice is another factor which contributes to employee satisfaction. The more empowered an employee feels to shape their working environment, the more satisfied and engaged the employee will be with their job. With BYOD, employees can choose the device which suits their individual tastes and preferences. Tech-savvy, younger employees may want to acquire personal smartphones fitted with the latest technology and more intuitive user interfaces. Increasingly, employees want the consumer experience even when they are at work. The familiarity with their technology and ease of use enhances their sense of freedom.
Allowing employees to bring their own smartphones, tablets, and computers to the workplace might even help companies attract new talent, as the younger workforce does not want to feel constricted by the technology a business offers.
In part through this greater choice, freedom, and flexibility, BYOD enhances employee engagement – the emotional response that they have towards their employment. Along with flexible working hours, good communication and feedback on their work performance, BYOD can make people appreciate how their work efforts contribute to the goals of their organisation.
The benefits of employee convenience and satisfaction in turn translate into benefits for business – with greater productivity and improved employee retention in the long run.
From a company’s viewpoint, personal devices that people carry with them permanently provide mobility, agility and the ability to collaborate with other staff members and clients from any location at anytime. Fitting mobile devices with technologies such as push notifications, chat messaging and video all support team collaboration. This is an increasingly important issue for global companies that work in different locations and different time zones.
Another benefit to the company is derived from the fact that there is a considerable cost involved in fitting employees with portable devices such as a smartphone or tablet. By allowing employees to use their own preferred device, this cost can be substantially reduced. Coupled with this, employees will maintain their own device, reducing the need for IT staff and support services. “Device familiarity” will go a long way towards reducing support calls.
The flexibility of staff members using their own mobile devices does, however, produce some security and infrastructure problems.
Mobile devices are easily lost or stolen. This could cause problems if sensitive company data is stored on the device. Access to personal mobile devices is also not commonly password protected, so anybody can access the data stored, and that data may not be backed up to a server. Further, staff may install and use unauthorised mobile apps on their device.
Ways to improve security and privacy on a network operated with private mobile devices include the following:
- Companies must ensure that the devices used to access their corporate network are free from malware, spam, or applications that can infiltrate and infect the network
- Corporate network management should take steps that enable them to to identify devices that access the network and only allow access if they are authorised
- Mobile devices should be fitted with Integrated Network Access Control (NAC) that enables action to be taken against unauthorised or non-compliant devices at any time
- Companies should have full visibility of users, the devices they use, and the applications they run on the corporate network
- Companies should have security measures in place to protect both business and employee generated data
You may wish to enlist help to ensure your BYOD strategy is effectively implemented, to the benefit of your employees and your business. Virtuelle Group has a strong focus on mobile workstyles and through our strategic partnership with leading vendors like Citrix, we can help set up working conditions which both enhance employee engagement, and protect your business from security risks. Find out more here.