Technology is here to make life easier, but it seems the office computer and its peripherals clearly didn’t get the memo. The printer getting jammed when you absolutely need the reports ready for a meeting — check. The computer hanging when you haven’t saved that lengthy document you just typed out — check. Taking hours to run a programme that should be done in minutes — check. Murphy did warn you that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and it seems like there’s no way out. Except, there is one.
Following the success of BYOB (a popular party acronym for Bring Your Own Beer) in the social scene, it’s now time for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to take the workplace by storm. As the name suggests, BYOD functions by letting employees bring their personal devices to work, serving the dual purposes of escaping the drudgery of slow office machines, as well as the added comfort of working on a device one knows and can take back home.
Helps reduce time
For people like Arjun Gokani, BYOD has been a normal practice for many years now. A freelance ad- film producer and model, the 27 year-old swears by the importance of having the freedom to bring his own devices to work. “I’ve been BYOD-ing since 2006 and it has made me more efficient. My machine has my settings, it recognises me and brings me comfort and confidence at a workplace.
I know to what capacity I can work using the application and software. If I need to rush to a meeting, I can always work on the go at ease. It’s also made me flexible. For example, at client meetings, if I need to work on an image to show a new idea that is being discussed, I can work on my machine and have it presented right then. This is when BYOD is beneficial,” he says.
It’s not just freelancers who enjoy the benefits of this practice. Kaashvi Nair, assistant director, Emmay Entertainments, a Bandra-based production house, says, “When it comes to work, I think you should be available at all times, even though it may seem painful. BYOD helps reduce decision-making time. There could be a crisis at work, but you can’t solve it because all the information is on the office computer. This would mean going back to office to get the work done, which is a waste of time. This just makes the whole process cumbersome, when I could be solving the matter sitting in my living room having dinner.”
Employees accessible round the clock, on their own devices? Sounds like a win-win for employers too. Gautham Maediratta, VP, Marketing, Attano, a Marol-based company that makes eBooks and educational content for multiple platforms, agrees. “Attano has long encouraged BYOD. We believe that people are happiest and most productive when they are allowed to work with a tool of their choice rather than being forced to work with something that doesn’t suit their personal preferences. We constantly try new devices to get an understanding of the new and fascinating things that technology makes possible. Given the dramatic shifts in the technology landscape globally, we believe that it is critical for any technology company to offer employees this choice,” he says.
Imran Ladak, design consultant with Attano certainly enjoys the freedom he’s got in the office. “I’d say bringing my own gadgets is definitely a good thing. It helps me to be more productive, since I know my laptop and my operating system better than the company-issued ones. In fact, when I need to take a day off during an important project, all I have to do is send across a few key files from home — I get my day off, and work doesn’t stop. That’s adds to both employee productivity and work-life balance.”
Freedom and choice
“It also helps foster the culture of a flexible work-life environment, allowing us to work with a host of freelancers and contractors, some who work from home or elsewhere, sometimes even other cities.
This also helps cut costs in the long run,” adds Rumki Fernandes, Head, People Strategy, Attano. It’s interesting to see how something as simple as letting employees bring their laptops to work has forged better employee-employer relationships. While some may argue that providing up-to-date equipment to work with in office is a responsibility that no employer should shirk, those that follow BYOD unanimously agree that they enjoy the understanding.
“Freedom always wins,” says Maediratta. “This is an emerging trend and some industries could be slower to adopt new trends, but our view is that employees should be given the choice to work on the devices they want. BYOD doesn’t function by making up for equipment that the office doesn’t provide, but by improving results by constantly bringing in new technology. “BYOD gives employees a choice,” says Gokani. “You are provided with a machine, but if you want to use your own device, feel free to do so,” he says.
It’s a matter of trust
But doesn’t opening doors to personal devices in the office increase security threat? While letting employees bring their own gadgets to work is clearly a hit with many media firms, financial institutions remain oblivious to the trend. So much so, that many leading institutions we spoke to not only declined to comment on the story, but also maintained that this was something they don’t see happening in the future.
Does that mean that those adopting the practice are compromising with security? “While there are numerous concerns about security, we believe that 90 per cent of them can be overcome by using cutting-edge IT infrastructure and providing basic education to employees on enabling passwords, remote wiping, etc.
For example, some colleagues have set up facial recognition password protection on their devices. This is about trust, confidence and integrity. We are confident that we have the right tools to protect our network, confidential employee data and intellectual property. Our experience has been positive save for one blip. Post that we went to great lengths to communicate responsible practices to accompany the freedom of BYOD,” says Fernandes.
“A lot of data on our computers and USB is indeed ‘top secret’, but each employer will decide how comfortable he is with you taking the information home on the basis of the trust level you share,” says Nair. “Once you let your employer know the measures you are taking to protect the files, address their concerns and still give your best at work, few will question you. There are some things that one needs to understand. My laptop is like my third arm. Even if I’m going out after work, I will never leave the laptop unattended or in the car,” she says.
Like it or hate it, BYOD looks like it’s here to stay. “Honestly, the days of a tight partition between home and office are over. We are living a life without boundaries. If I can pay household bills from the office, I can answer important mail pertaining to work from home,” says Nair.
“Technology has blurred the line that divided personal and professional. It has seamlessly taken both the areas of your life and locked it into the small device that you now call a phone, an iPad, a computer, or a USB,” sums up Nair.