One of the controversial conversations in the digital workspace right now is BYOD. I have plenty of conversations every week with clients around BYOD and where it starts and stops. Some companies are just looking at mobile phones, others are considering all devices, but the conversation is all around technology. I am happy to talk technology but I wanted to take a minute and flip this on its head to look at it from the employee perspective.
So, let’s look at the real-world impact of BYOD organisational culture.
When businesses implement a BYOD model, there are usually two ways they do this:
- Employees get a reduced catalogue to choose from (often at a discounted cost), limiting their choice but allowing the organisation to more easily provide support, or
- Employees can use any device of their choosing, and typically they are funded entirely by the employee.
For me this brings back memories of the age-old debate about school uniform or no school uniform. Was it better to have all the kids wear the same uniform so nobody was treated differently or had any advantages. Or do you let kids wear whatever they want and kids with parents who could afford brand labels wore the cool clothes and those not so fortunate had to wear the low-cost labels leading to the social divide that was the haves and have nots. (You would think we should have gone past this but trust me school yards are still the same and it still follows to most workplaces.) This debate also encompasses the cost savings and total ROI discussion for parents. However, I find it’s this social and economic conversation that reflects the BYOD dilemma.
For those on a good salary, BYOD is great – they can buy the latest and greatest or the in-fashion device. But for those that might be on a single income or a low-income household for example, BYOD is a very different challenge. The financial spend can be the difference between a device that lets you get your job done more effectively or giving your child that special birthday present or pay the electricity bill. (I know what you’re thinking tax deduction, yes but you must have the cash first to buy it.) So, for me the thought of BYOD really outlines the great social divide in the Digital Transformation all businesses are going through right now.
This social impact is felt in all industries, even education where BYOD is being considered for both students and teachers. Imagine your child in a class with a teacher who has the advance technology to do Virtual Reality and the kids in the next classroom don’t, because the teacher couldn’t afford the model with VR. Are we handicapping people’s ability to be successful and efficient in their jobs, or education, because of their social and economic circumstances that influence the technology they can afford. The traditional workplace allowed all employees to be equals no matter what social and economic background they came from as everyone used the same devices and there was no tech advantages. In this world of BYOD there can be very distinct technology advantages that could enable some people to get promotions or pay increases just because the technology that person has is better and enables them to do a better job or faster.
So, for all the CIO’s, CEO’s and other execs looking at making the leap to BYOD please take a moment to consider the impacts such a decision will have on your employees and not just the bottom line. Yes, Millennials want to work on any device and any OS that they prefer, and there are leaps and bounds in technology every year that we are struggling to keep up with. You also have the ever-increasing push to reduce the costs of doing business, but what about the wellbeing of your employees and your duty of care to them? Do you want a workplace that has the haves and have not’s or do you want an equal playing field where you have the best and brightest working as an efficient team? Take a moment to consider how you will implement BYOD and partner with your employees to get a better outcome.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leon Sayers is the Lead Advisory Consultant at Unisys. Leon specialises in Infrastructure, Hybrid Cloud, Workspace, ITSM and Automation. Based in Melbourne, Leon draws on a background spanning more than 20 years in ICT. His particular area of focus is helping organisations in their transformation journey, turning strategy into reality.