Once upon a time, companies made sure employees were kitted out with all the IT they needed to get their job done.
The came BYOD.
BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a policy that allows employees to use their own smartphones, tablets, PC and other devices within the workplace, and have those devices access – and perhaps store – company information and applications.
In theory, BYOD is a win-win situation for both employees and corporations. The employees get to use the devices that they are comfortable with and don’t have to juggle with multiple devices, while corporations get to reduce expenditure on devices and support.
Sounds great, but as with most things, care and planning is needed if BYOD is to work, and if both employees and IT admins are to be happy to coexist digitally.
Is BYOD right for you?
Right now, to BYOD or not to BYOD is usually a choice. Enjoy this while you can, because it is estimated that by 2017 a full 50 percent of firms will demand that employees BYOD.
The first question to address before going down the BYOD route is whether BYOD is right for you. And this question applies to both the employees and the organizations that employ them equally. And to answer this question, a whole raft of issues need to be addresses.
For companies, the issues that need to be addressed are many and varied, and revolve around creating a workable BYOD policy which should cover matters of security, support, who pays for what, and what happens when an employee is let off or fired.
Employees also need to consider whether BYOD is right for them, because there’s a lot more at stake here than whether someone can take their smartphone, tablet, or notebook to work with them.
For example, there are issues of privacy, and whether the company can track an employee’s movements using their device, and whether Internet access is monitored.
Then there’s the issue of security. Most companies will demand that BYOD devices are set up so that they can be remote wiped if lost or stolen, but what happens if Little Jonny tries to guess the passcode on your iPad one too many times in order to play Angry Birds and that’s seen as an intrusion attempt and the device is nuked?
Employees will also be able to do less with their devices once they take the BYOD route. There may be limitations on what apps they can download and install, and being able to bypass OS imposed limitations though jailbreaking and rooting will almost undoubtedly be out of the question.
BYOD is not for everyone, so much so that some employees working at companies that demand users ‘bring their own devices’ to work choose to buy separate devices for home and work.
Reduction (or if possible, eliminate) distractions
OK, so you’ve decided that BYOD is for you, what next?
One of the keys to making BYOD work is to reduce distractions as much as possible. It’s a massive productivity killer to be continually bombarded by a never-ending stream of alerts and notifications from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds and the like.
Not only do these represent a continual distraction that eats into productivity, they look unprofessional.
Both Android and iOS give you tools to control notifications and alerts, and I suggest that you learn how to make use of these. It does mean that you get less out of your device, but this is a productivity trade-off that I believe is well worth making.
Separate work, home and play
Another factor to making BYOD work is to separate as much as possible work, home and play.
Smartphones, tablets and notebooks have become cornerstones to every aspect of our lives, but the more we use them for work, the more we need to be able to compartmentalize the different roles or personas.
Not sure what this means? Let me give you some examples:
- Apps – Organize your apps in such a way as to make it easy for you to separate out different aspects of your life. As far as smartphones and tablets are concerned Android makes it easier to do this than iOS does because you get better control over where links to apps go, and give some apps greater visibility over others.
- Emails – Having a clear separation between personal and work email is a must, even if this means using different apps.
- Photos/videos – I’ve seen people having to scroll through endless personal pictures – baby photos, holidays, and even quite personal snaps – before getting to some relevant business slide or video. Don’t be that person!
- Social media – Clear separation is important here, especially for anyone who has responsibility for corporate Facebook and Twitter accounts. Not only does having a separation allow you to reduce distractions, but also to make sure that you don’t get confused as to which of your personas is talking.
- Documents – Prevention is much better – and easier – than the cure, so don’t allow your documents to get into a mess in the first place!
I remember when a cellphone would last for days between recharges. Good times!
Nowadays I find myself topping up the battery in my iPhone and iPad several times a day. This means that having a single charger next to the bed for charging my phone at the end of the working day is no longer good enough. I have a charger in the office, another that I keep for travel – I have a separate one for traveling so that if I lose it, I’m not down a home or office charger – and I have a car cord for times when I’m on the road.
Yes, this is expensive, but when you rely on your devices for work, you can’t afford to let them go flat.
I also like to keep a power pack with me for keeping my devices topped up when I’m away from a power outlet. There are no end of devices to choose from, but no portable power pack of choice is the New Trent iCarrier, which can keep both my iPhone and iPad (or for that matter any device that can be charged up via USB) topped up and ready for work no matter where in the world I find myself.
I’ve lost count of how many times having that power pack in my pocket has saved my skin.
Cloud is your best friend
The glue that binds mobile devices together is the cloud. Cloud services and cloud storage mean that low-performance, low-powered devices with limited storage capacity can tap into vast clusters of servers worldwide and use their CPU power, RAM and storage.
While some companies will have cloud policies clearly laid out in its BYOD policy, others will not. Either way, expect your smartphone, tablet or notebook to be tied to one or many cloud services, and for the cloud to serve you email, apps, calendar data and much more.
Unless your choice of cloud services is dictated by your employer’s BYOD policy, here are some services that you should take a look at and consider:
Right apps for the job
One of the cornerstones to making BYOD work is to work smart, and key to working smart is picking apps that boost productivity. But with around 800,000 apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, it’s hard to pick the best tools for the job.
The best I can do to guide anyone who is new to BYOD is to point them in the direction of a few apps that I use. These are apps that are available for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms.
- Evernote – Organize notes, tasks, and much more.
- QuickOffice – A suite of apps that allow you to work with Microsoft Office documents.
- Pocket Informant – Corral your appointments and calendar.
- LogMeIn Ignition – Take remote control of your PCs and Macs.
Prepare for disaster
Always back up your data. If your company has its ducks in a row then it should be able to keep its data safe, but your data is your responsibility, and you need to make sure that it is safe in the event.
While there’s always the risk that you could lose or break your smartphone or tablet, BYOD introduces a few additional risks, including the chance that it might be remotely wiped, or even seized for legal examination in conjunction with litigation or other legal issue. Either way, you could yourself without your device and the data on it.
Prepare of these disasters before they happen make sure that all your personal data – including contact details, photos and so on – is safely backed up and under your control.