Technology in the Workplace: BYOD

October 29, 2013
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BYOD used to mean you had your beverage of choice handy at the neighborhood barbeque or your friend’s football watch party. Your next employer may switch out the traditional B with a D (for device) and ask you to use your shiny new iPhone or Android in the office.

We embraced this idea early on at Collective Bias. Friends and advertisers alike have contacted me using a single phone number for almost four years now. Using my personal phone at work kept me from juggling two cell phones on the weekends. As a young startup company, we avoided the infrastructure buildout costs associated with installing, configuring (and reconfiguring as we grew) a traditional phone system. Show up, log into your laptop and get to work. We prioritized speed over standardization.

I receive a stipend each month to subsidize my cell phone bill and I’m pretty happy with the arrangement. Life in a startup blurs the hours between work and home anyway so it rarely bothered me to take work calls happened at night or on weekends (as long as they didn’t become excessive).

Now when I need personal time and space, I turn the phone off or silence the ringer for a bit. Chances are that my family will complain about the disconnection well before a business contact. A well-balanced life in the new work order is more about creating your own boundaries than expecting work to fit into a traditional 8-5 bucket.

I had never heard of a company doing anything like BYOD when I joined CB. Searching Google “BYOD” today, I found 12.2 MM posts. My daughter (in 6th grade) even has a BYOD policy in place at her school now. She can listen to music during art class projects and use it to look up research items for other subjects.

Companies must decide what policies and network software to put into place when allowing (or promoting) personal devices in the workplace. The expense of network administration for a plethora of devices will mitigate some of the potential savings in hardware costs.

According to David Willis, head of mobility and communications research for Gartner, companies will have little choice around BYOD in the future. In a recent CNBC article he noted, “This new generation of workers has always used their personal devices in their school, and they have never been without these. So they see it as a step backward when they enter the workforce and get a heavy computer or antiquated smartphone.”

Many people also dislike carrying multiple devices to accomplish the same task. When I first entered the workforce, I had a personal cell phone, a work cell phone and (because I’m that old) a text pager. The pager and work phone eventually gave way to a work BlackBerry. Working as a freelancer, my phone connected me to work and personal contacts alike. In today’s uber-connected social landscape, we all have personal brands. Our personal and professional persona’s blend across platforms and become viewable to friends, family and business contacts.

In this light, BYOD isn’t some revolutionary concept. Instead, it demonstrates how our online lives start to manifest and affect the way we live and conduct business.


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