Most organizational decisions to try to slow or ban Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace seem to circle around the security issues. Which, of course, are valid and concerning to IT groups who must balance conflicting security and productivity or convenience needs for users. CIO.com, for instance, describes a large electrical contractor, Rosendin Electric, that has a no-BYOD policy. Employees keep asking about it, but CIO Sam Lamonica worries about security breaches and says, “We have a user base that might not, in a lot of cases, make the right choices.” The article also cites a CompTIA survey of 400 IT and business execs in which just over half said they are not “doing” BYOD, period.
But CIOs and IT managers are also now dealing with less quantifiable problems that may grow along with BYOD and the mobile worker’s lifestyle. These problems range from angst and worry over job loss, to fear of being expected to work unlimited hours, to uncertainty about which responsibilities could increase with BYOD’s freedom.
The UK’s IT Pro held a “Good BYOD/Bad BYOD” roundtable this week, where IT decision makers discussed workplace issues for both IT and the rest of the user base related to the trend.
Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft, said BYOD can create more free and creative work environments, or more confusing ones:
We have to stop talking about BYOD or the consumerisation of IT like it's another tool in IT. It's like putting an extra phone on someone's desk and saying, 'You're twice as efficient now.' We need to look at it as a principle/service that allows people to embrace technology in ways they'd not imagined before.
Mark Evans, head of IT for a construction firm, said that he would actually like to see a progression to a time when IT, as we know it now, won’t be needed at all, at least in his company. “We are getting very close to a position where I can say to my CEO that he doesn’t need us anymore. This is a fundamental change to our industry. There will be casualties.” His approach has been a “libertarian” one, with an added “safety net” for those needing help with decision making on devices, etc. However, the remainder of the IT staff may not be as calm about the prospect of a workforce that could function without their services.
Coplin also observed, “If we don’t get this right the only thing left for us is not to work smarter but work harder and I refuse to accept that.” He was referring more to IT than to the larger employee group, but many of them have concerns in this area, too.
In an email, Egnyte shared results of its recent survey of UK employers and employees about BYOD and mobile work. Among the findings:
o 42.2 percent of respondents would work on their device while commuting to work.
o 38.8 percent of employers would work on their lunch breaks if a BYOD policy was in place.
o 59.3 percent of people would work on their device from home.
o 9.6 percent would work while socializing.
Survey respondents are also very worried about the security risks and perhaps worried about where their responsibility for that actually lies: 72 percent think that BYOD policies put companies at risk, and 86.6 percent of 18-25-year-olds “would take active care when looking at company documents on their device to stop any security issues.“