Blame it on the iPad, or on employees complaining about having better gadgets at home than in the office. Whatever the cause, more and more workers are demanding that their companies accommodate their personal laptops, smartphones, and tablets — and companies are complying.
Companies like Netflix and Kraft Foods allow their employees to choose their own devices. Often, companies will provide stipends for workers who want to buy their own equipment.
The advantages of a Bring Your Own Device policy are clear. Many workers respond positively to the sense of autonomy and individuality that choosing their own laptops and tablets implies. It’s good, in short, for morale — especially among workers in the creative or tech sectors, who like to think of themselves as independent.
BYOD also saves companies money. Even if the organization provides a stipend for purchasing devices, they can potentially save money on IT support.
“You can basically outsource your IT department to Apple,” says one analyst.
In addition, most companies have a cap on their device stipends. If you want a laptop that doubles as a time machine and can align the satellites in space, you’ll have to shell out the extra money yourself.
What’s the downside to letting your employees bring their own gadgets? Well, see previous re: outsourcing that IT department. Many workers are understandably less than excited about spending their off hours negotiating with the Geek Squad. It’s also less time efficient for the company to depend on workers seeking help from outside vendors. After all, the IT guys might make fun of you, but at least they’re just in the cubicle down the hall and can come turn your computer off and turn it back on in person.
Finally, allowing workers to choose whichever devices their little heart desires almost certainly means that you’ll have an office full of disparate computers, phones, and tablets. Even if you choose to continue providing some sort of formal IT support, you’ll likely wind up with a PC guy shrugging his shoulders at the profusion of Apple products, and vice versa.
In the end, as with most things, it’s about the tradeoffs you’re willing to make. BYOD, and you can have more flexibility … for a price.