Positive media-hype around the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement abounds. Everyone seems to be hailing the mobile workforce as an evolution in the right direction. But, as with most emerging technologies, there are two sides to every coin.
Business owners should know all the positives – and possible downsides – of implementing a mobile working strategy. There’s hype – but do you really need to be sucked into it? Let’s investigate the pros and cons.
Mobile workforce pros
1. Anytime, anywhere
The employee has the opportunity to work flexible office hours, and even work entirely from home if the job specifications allow for it.
2. Increased staff productivity
Since workers are not office bound productivity may actually be increased as they can complete tasks and job specifications after hours. Some people actually feel more energised and productive at night, so shifting their working hours will allow for better output.
3. Increase in employee confidence
If employees are given increased freedom and control in dictating their working hours and conditions, it will help foster confidence and trust towards their employer. People like feeling appreciated and a little faith goes a long way.
4. Saving money
Depending on the degree of mobility the employer wants to implement, great cost-savings can be achieved. Not having to pay rent for an office building or investing in the associated infrastructure costs, for example, can save a business owner a lot of money.
Mobile workforce cons
1. Too much freedom can be a bad thing
Just as some people perform better when they are not under constant managerial scrutiny, others cannot work successfully if given too much freedom. Besides, there are always those that will take advantage of the system, and these types of workers can create a lot of unnecessary stress for the business owner.
2. What is my staff really up to?
It takes a special kind of business owner to be completely comfortable with not knowing where his employees are most of the day. Most employers still want to be able to see their employees at work and working.
3. Security concerns
Having an array of personal devices at the office opens up security challenges, because the employer loses control over the business data stored on personal devices, which can easily be lost or stolen.
4. Storage concerns
Business owners need to ensure they have a solution in place that can recognise the difference between personal and work data, so that the company is not wasting space on storing hundreds of their employees’ personal photos and videos on the corporate network.
5. IT nightmare
BYOD lends itself to the use of various devices that are built on disparate operating systems. This can lead to compatibility issues during synchronisation, for instance.
6. Accountability and responsibility
This is an important one and is often the most complicated issue in the BYOD context. The device may belong to the employee, but it is being used for business – so where do the lines get drawn in terms of responsibility and accountability?
7. Employee dissatisfaction and resentment
Again, although some employees thrive under mobile working conditions, others might build up feelings of resentment towards their employers as they might feel they never really stop working.
The availability of sleek lightweight devices like Smartphones, laptops and tablets coupled with access to high-speed internet from just about anywhere, is giving employees the freedom of choice. But the business owner needs to realise that the ultimate choice still lies with him.