By Jessica Oaks
Bring your own device (BYOD) is an IT policy that is growing among businesses in the U.S. and globally. In essence, it is a movement that encourages employees to make use of their personal devices for work functions. The movement has benefits for employees and employers alike, and it also helps businesses go a little greener.
One of the key benefits of BYOD for employees is the ability to make use of the devices on which they have spent their hard-earned cash. Employees would rather use these devices than struggle with those provided by the IT department. This promotes employee satisfaction, reduces employee turnover, and can attract top talent to the organization.
For businesses, this means considerable cost savings. With employees bringing their own devices to use at work, companies reduce the cost of their infrastructure by eliminating or reducing monies spent on technologies. Typically, cost is shifted all or in part to the employee who pays for the data and voice services. Also, IT support is generally handled by the users’ service providers. This means IT departments can focus on more strategic initiatives rather than having to close-out endless helpdesk tickets.
Businesses also benefit from use of the latest greatest technologies. To save money, businesses would, typically, resist the need to upgrade to new systems, but with BYOD, employees will often upgrade their devices of their own volition. The business thereby benefits from this leap in technology use. One such advance comes from the leaders in the BYOD movement; Blackberry enterprise BYOD is captured in its "BlackberryBalance" technology which seamlessly partitions personal and job-related work spaces, making it easier for employees to toggle between personal and work-related data.
These are the obvious benefits to employers and employees, but BYOD also benefits the environment. For one, it eliminates the need for duplicate devices. In times past, employees would juggle two or more devices to maintain communications with work and home. This meant double the raw materials being used to build the devices, as well as the transportation needs to bring the device to the customer. It also meant more than one device needing to be charged on a daily basis. Obviously, this could take its toll on the environment when translated to the entire global workforce.
With regard to raw materials, it takes 1.8 tons of raw materials and nearly 29 gallons of fossil fuel to manufacture a single desktop computer. With the BYOD movement, employees are relying less on their desktop computers and more on their tablets, laptops, and smartphones. This has a tremendous impact on the environment and a business’s bottom line. A desktop computer produces 1,380 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which totals approximately $165,000 in electric bills to its companies. Using laptops and other mobile devices reduces these emissions and saves the company considerable sums of money. Also, as these smaller, more portable devices require fewer raw materials to make, it means less waste in the landfills when the devices’ usefulness has expired.
The BYOD movement also makes use of less paper as email has replaced a large part of what was once maintained on the printed page. Their same device can function beyond maintaining that office documentation. It might also serve as a repository for textbooks for the class they are taking or a storehouse for their own reading material. This obviously cuts down on the amount of paper needing to be produced, thereby saving countless trees.
However, it's important for businesses to institute a clear BYOD policy that outlines what devices are permitted, security measures for data, acceptable use policy, who owns what apps, any stipend that might cover monthly usage, device insurance and potential mandatory data wipe in case of loss or theft (which can impact personal data like photos), and employee exit requirements. A clear policy will help both employers and employees enjoy the benefits of using their own devices and avoid any data compromise or improper use.
The BYOD movement has many benefits for companies and employees, but beyond promoting a happier workplace and saving the company money, it is obvious that the movement can also help save the environment.
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.