One of the major advantages of BYOD is that it increases employee productivity. According to a 2012 survey, 64 percent of IT managers believe that allowing employees to use their own devices helps them get more done. Almost half of the IT users surveyed agreed that using their own devices had already increased their efficiency and productivity. The increase was attributed to everything from familiarity with the personal device to the ability to work on the go or from home.
There are some, though, who question the real value of BYOD, arguing that allowing employees to use personal devices for work could actually decrease productivity. They note that while in certain situations having access to company applications can make the process go more smoothly, overall, BYOD does not benefit the average employee and can actually decrease productivity. They point to issues such as unfettered access to applications like Facebook that divert attention away from work, or technical issues that require time spent troubleshooting instead of working.
These are valid concerns, but proponents of BYOD believe that there are solutions.
Geofencing and Application Limitations
When employees use their own devices for work, chances are those devices will also contain applications that have nothing to do with work. Companies that allow BYOD are justifiably concerned that instead of crunching the numbers for the fourth quarter, employees might be busy updating their Facebook statuses and attempting to beat their high score on Angry Birds.
While banning non-work related applications from employee-owned devices is impractical, IT managers can help protect productivity with geofencing solutions. Instead of blocking or blacklisting applications entirely, geofencing allows for the selective blocking of certain applications on the corporate network. In other words, you can have Facebook on your phone, but when you are within the boundaries of corporate Wi-Fi, you won’t be able to access it. This not only keeps employees focused on their work, it also prevents the drain of network bandwidth by non-work related traffic.
Selective Device Wiping
One of the best practices of BYOD management is the use of remote locking and wiping technology. A stolen or lost device could spell disaster for a business, because if the employee has stored passwords or other data on the device, a criminal could easily access the corporate network and wreak havoc. However, sometimes it may appear that a device has fallen into the wrong hands — perhaps there have been multiple attempts to log in with the wrong password – but there’s a reasonable explanation for the problem. For example, the employee’s child may be trying to access games on a tablet and incorrectly enters the password. The ability to remotely lock the device or wipe all data from its internal storage helps protect it from prying eyes, but if you wipe everything from the device, you could be unnecessarily removing corporate data as well as personal data. With selective wiping, however, you only remove or lock the information creating the greatest risk, such as enterprise-related apps, maintaining security while preventing the productivity loss that comes from lost data.
One of the best ways to ensure BYOD productivity is to require all employees to use compatible devices. In a perfect world, you could develop enterprise applications to work across all operating platforms, but that’s not always practical for every business. Even if you are using commercially available applications that are available on multiple platforms, you could run into compatibility issues when employees attempt to share data with each other. One solution is to stick with a single platform; this streamlines and simplifies application development, support and security functions to improve productivity.
One reason many companies turn to BYOD is the desire to move away from the help and support functions that plague many corporate-sponsored mobile programs. Some managers believe that allowing employees to use their own devices takes the burden off support from IT and places it on the employee. However, when the employee has a problem, he or she has to take time away from work to find and implement a solution.
The reality is that a company that opts for BYOD must have some type of help desk and support program in place to assist employees and keep them productive. Relying on employees who may not understand how to manage or fix their own devices could actually backfire, and reduce productivity levels considerably.
BYOD does have the ability to increase productivity and efficiency, as well as increase employee satisfaction, if it is managed appropriately. Before you move toward a BYOD environment, consider the potential causes of a decrease in productivity, and take steps to mitigate them.
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