As more and more employees sync up their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops with their work correspondence, BYOD, or ‘bring your own device’ technical policies are becoming increasingly common in businesses the world over, blurring the lines between our working and personal lives.
From a business perspective, properly managed, this brings some enormous benefits. However, the unpredictability of the multiple operating systems and connectivity ports that inevitably comes with such a variety of devices, creates a host of potential challenges for the facilities manager and IT teams. In this article we’ll explore these pros and cons and look at how to overcome the challenges with agile technology solutions.
By allowing employees to work with their own smartphones or computers, IT departments can cut their spend significantly by avoiding the need to buy new smartphones, tablets and laptops for entire teams.
Where once there was the need to constantly update personal devices with each new iteration of a smartphone, the BYOD culture frees up this budget for investment, for example in new meeting room technology that benefits everyone.
From an employee perspective, working from their own device grants more flexibility should they need to work from home or need to break away from the office for a client meeting or hit an impending deadline without the distraction of the office.
For the business, it quite often means a reduction in sick leave and an improvement in motivation and productivity as employees respond positively to being trusted to manage their own time.
Employees will be far more familiar with a device that they have chosen and will therefore have a greater understanding of how to access documents or establish their requirements for a meeting. New employees will also require less time to become acquainted with in-house devices.
There will be less of a requirement to juggle multiple devices, as employees will be able to access all their communications via a single device.
Not only does the BYOD phenomenon create new avenues for improved productivity, but it also means that any contingency funds to replace lost or damaged tech can be allocated to exploring new solutions that could further enhance the development of the business.
Collaboration has proven to be a value generator for a business, as a study launched by Deloitte Australia, titled The Collaborative Economy: Unlocking The Power of the Workplace Crowd, revealed that businesses that prioritised collaboration at the core of their operation were valued at $46 billion each year. The same research also discovered that businesses that promoted participation amongst team members were twice as likely to be a profitable business.
As group participation is now widely recognised as a driver of productivity within a business, meetings are far more commonplace in a working environment. However, more meetings and more devices create additional challenges. So what are they and what solutions are available to overcome the potential hurdles of BYOD?
A major concern associated with BYOD is security and safeguarding company data. Without proper preparation, such as a secure file sharing system in place or by implementing a sandbox, a potential issue arises with company data getting into the wrong hands, should that employee share their device with family members or friends.
Also, if that employee were to resign, will they take the company data with them? A similar issue presents itself if an employee’s device was lost or stolen.
Overseeing how personal data is transferred or stored when operating as a BYOD office becomes more complicated. As a data controller, it could be the employer’s responsibility to make sure that data isn’t compromised, even if it’s the employee that owns the device.
As data protection in a BYOD culture can be tricky to navigate, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced a series of guidelines of how to amend company policy to cater for BYOD and further considerations you need to bear in mind to comply with the UK Data Protection Act.
As you’re no longer in control of your employees’ devices, assessing the reliability and suitability of a device falls to its owner, so if their device or laptop is slightly outdated or functions poorly, this could slow down productivity in a meeting environment.
BYOD opens meeting rooms up to new challenges when connecting iOS and Android devices to a main display.
Apple is notorious for updating its connectivity ports and creating cables that are bespoke to its devices. In late 2016, it was estimated that Apple now sells over 17 different types of dongle for example.
Some Android tablets on the other hand operate directly via HDMI, often through a mini or micro version of the connector. However, an Android smartphone may operate using a micro USB. The solution to an Apple Vs Android clash is to equip meeting rooms with a variety of cables and adapters, for example:
One of the simplest forms of supporting multiple operating system connections, however, is to go wireless through the variety of wireless content sharing solutions that support both iOS and Android. The Vivitek NovoPRO NP2000, for example, supports a bring your own device ethos by pairing WiFi enabled iPads, iPhones and their Android equivalents, as well as Chromebooks, laptops and desktop PCs with a display.
AirPlay is proprietary to Apple and enables wireless content streaming between devices and AV equipment. Content sharing solutions like the Barco CSE-200 and CSC-1 support AirPlay mirroring and can connect multiple devices to a display via a ClickShare base unit. Or, for laptops with a standard USB port, users can plug in a ClickShare button to activate a connection between their computer and the main display.
An alternative means of connecting multiple devices to a screen is via an exclusive app developed to accompany a screen sharing device. Take Barco ClickShare for instance. This device offers a free app to connect iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.
Going wireless will also speed up preparation times in meetings. A selection of wires and compatible adaptors will not only create clutter in your meeting room but it could also prolong meeting prep by having to search for the right cables. However, for straightforward connectivity with a single laptop and a main display, a transmitter dongle like the Vision TC2-HDMIW7 Wireless HDMI Kit is a quick and simple solution for pairing a computer with your main monitor.
BYOD can create challenges, but if the pros outweigh the potential hurdles for your business, then there are plenty of solutions to support multiple devices and operating systems. Our team is always on hand to help guide you through going BYOD, so contact us for additional support.