Ramifications of mandatory BYOD on workers and employers

Ramifications of mandatory BYOD on workers and employers

Summary: The movement started by employees who want to bring their own gadgets for work has taken a turn, according to new figures. Companies will be requiring workers to BYOD, and that will bring changes for both workers and employers.

BYOD stuff copy
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Every time I've written articles about the bring-your-own-devices (BYOD) movement, I have approached it from the angle that it's an employee-driven movement, a result of folks wanting to use their favorite gadgets. I may have been wrong to do that. Astute readers have pointed out that companies would soon take advantage of BYOD and force workers to use their own gear, whether they want to or not. It turns out they might be right.

My colleague Zack Whittaker pointed out that new figures from Gartner indicate that employers will start requiring workers to bring their own laptops, smartphones, and tablets for use at work. According to Gartner, half the employers may require employees to use their own gear to do their jobs by 2017. This will make supplying the gear a part of the hiring process, and the ongoing responsibility of workers.

It is practically impossible for IT staff to adequately support all brands and models of gear that employees will bring to work if left to their own devices.

Whether we believe that is fair or not, if this comes to pass, it will bring changes for both the employees and employers. With supplying gadgetry as part of the job, it will put an additional burden on job candidates during the already anxious job interview process.

Savvy candidates, and those are the ones most interviewers want, will have to start asking if mandated BYOD is practiced at the company. If so, this becomes an out-of-pocket expense to accept any position, should it be offered. The interviewee should ask for the BYOD policy in this case, so they will know up front what will be expected of them.

Most likely, most companies that will mandate BYOD, will restrict employee-supplied gear to a short list of phones, tablets, and notebooks. This is much the same as they did when the company was supplying the gear. It is practically impossible for IT staff to adequately support all brands and models of gear that employees will bring to work if left to their own devices. This short list of acceptable gear will require new hires to buy new equipment to qualify, even if they already own their own non-supported equivalents.

Employees required to purchase new gear for use at work may be able to get some of the cost back from Uncle Sam. For those who qualify, some of the costs of purchasing devices required by an employer may be recoverable as an income tax deduction.

Prospective employees will need to scrutinize the supplied BYOD policies to determine how their newly purchased equipment will be supported. Does the company pay for required repairs, or the employee? The cost of equipment doesn't end at the cash register at purchase time, and savvy job candidates will want to know this up front during the interview phase.

Companies, both hiring managers and HR departments, will need to be prepared and have the BYOD policies nailed down and well defined. They will want to make the discussion and distribution of this information part of the job interview process. Companies do not wish to hire new employees, and then slap them around by forcing unexpected out-of-pocket costs on the employee. It makes no sense to keep the work force upset on the job, and that means BYOD policy that is well-thought out and familiar to the workers.

If the analysts at Gartner are correct and we see many companies begin mandating BYOD in the work place, changes will be required from the job interview on through the continued employment of workers. It is going to require companies to carefully define the method in which BYOD will be implemented and maintained through the duration of every worker's employment. It can't be just a free ride for the company, saving the cost of the gear, it must be equitable to foster the loyal work force that every company wants to have.

Topics: Mobility, Bring Your Own Device

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I hope you don't seriously believe this.

    "It can't be just a free ride for the company, saving the cost of the gear, it must be equitable to foster the loyal work force that every company wants to have."

    Relatively speaking few companies care about their workforce to the extent they'd have us believe they do.
    • Great, I love the idea!!!!

      I will have an advantage by offering employees computers when they work me where as my competitors will force employees to bring their own.

      Another benefit for working for me :)
  • Also

    At the college I work at they are looking at requiring students BYOD and moving away from managing open computer labs.
  • Mandating it is not a win-win.

    "it must be equitable to foster the loyal work force that every company wants to have."

    It can't be. By definition, "mandatory" means it's required regardless of whether it benefits the work force or not.

    So, I'm gonna copy paste what I wrote in the other article about mandatory BYOD:

    Mandatory is a bad idea, and here's why: It turns a win-win situation into a win-lose situation.

    With optional BYOD, the employee gets to decide whether it's a win for them or not. If it's a win, they can decide to use the BYOD policy. If it's not, the employee can choose to go the other route. It's win-win because the employee has a choice and doesn't have to lose if they determine that BYOD is a lose situation.

    With a mandatory BYOD policy, the employee doesn't get the opportunity to choose if it's a win or not. Thus, we get the very real possibility that this is a win-lose situation, and not a win-win.

    Many employees may feel compelled to buy a new device out of their own pocketbooks, because they don't like the idea of a personal device being subject to the business' network policies. And as MobileAdmin indicates (in the talkback of Zack's article), if they have to buy their own device, they'll start asking for a stipend.

    I don't think that mandatory BYOD is a win-win future.
  • Worker Loyalty? What is that?

    Loyalty went out in the 80s after workers realized companies have no loyalty toward them and no particular interest in retaining anyone long-term. Forcing BYOD will cause these companies to only fetch the more desperate workers, as in less-qualified and even less committed.
  • Tools

    Owners of car dealers, repair shops, employer of tradesman, require their employees to bring their own tools. Also, the mechanics purchase tools ongoing out of their own pockets; tools are more expensive than computers. Without tools you cannot get the job. Most all trades expect the tradesman to have and maintain their own tools. Thus in my mind it is not much different than any other office type employer requiring the same BYOD. As I see it, it is the mindset of the employee thinking the employer will provide devices. In my mind eye I also can invision an office employer requiring some employees to BYOD.
    • Not the same

      Not quite the same - A mechanic is still mostly physical labor focused so the tools can be used in multiple places and do not have things like intellectual property and data privacy and governance to worry about.

      Most white collar jobs are dealing with data either internal or customer. There are a host of regulations about how this data is stored and used. BYOD opens a slew of things that need to be resolved. Moving to cloud based platforms will help with some of these issues but you still have the cost shift on employees and privacy concerns to deal with. Mandatory BYOD will likely open a slew of liability questions as well.
    • Retired mechanic here

      You shouldn't compare this to mechanics because there is a big difference in the pay scheme. Mechanics are flat rate. You are paid by the job. You are NOT hourly or salary. If you are sitting smoking eating ect you are not making money. If you buy more tools, air guns and power tools you can work faster and make more money per time increment. Buying tools makes you more efficient and profitable so it makes sense.

      "Employees required to purchase new gear for use at work make be able to get some of the cost back from Uncle Sam. For those who qualify, some of the costs of purchasing devices required by an employer may be recoverable as an income tax deduction"

      WRONG!! We used to be able to deduct tools. 40 years ago I would spend around $2000 per year and take the whole $2000 dollar deduction. "only time I was ever audited" A few years later they changed the deduction scheme. It was similar to doctors bills and medical insurance premiums. So you never spent enough to take a deduction. Quite a few tool men went out of business because of this.
    • So...

      if you go to work for a garage, you have to bring your own dyno setup and lifting ramp?

      The other thing is, a good quality set of tools will last you your lifetime. A good quality laptop will last you a couple of years. Plus, if you change jobs, the 6 month old Lenovo might have to go and you'll need to buy a new Dell, because the new employer won't accept Lenovo...
  • taxes

    "Employees required to purchase new gear for use at work make be able to get some of the cost back from Uncle Sam. For those who qualify, some of the costs of purchasing devices required by an employer may be recoverable as an income tax deduction."

    care to tell us what deduction this is? I have not heard of the BYOD deduction.
    • Tools of the trade

      You'll have to ask a tax accountant for detailed info but basically if your employer requires you use certain tools for the job and doesn't provide them, they are deductible under current tax law.
      • but only

        BYOD expenses will only be deductible if you already have enough deductions to be filling out schedule A, otherwise you get nada.

        As to tradesman's tools, there are two things at work here, they are expensive, durable, and tend to "wonder off" so requiring employee ownership goes a long way to solving the "wonder off" problem. And unlike the IT stuff tradesman's tool are not obsolete every couple of years.
  • people

    wanted to bring toys to work this is what happens
  • It will be interesting to see what the employers expectations will be...

    ...for these devices. Will they expect employees to install A/V software? Full disk encryption? Mandate screen locking? Remote wipe capability? A well defined MDM policy is a must.
  • My employer is looking at this

    My employer is looking at implementing a BYOD policy. They want to use cloud based virtual desktops and have us connect to the server with our own devices. I am ok with this.

    Do you think this could create market for multi-line cell phones, one personal number and one for work with the ability to turn off the lines independently?
  • Right now employers often require staff to get cell phones

    so in that sense it is already here.

    I have a hard time imagining it for laptop class devices however. IT Depts. cannot expect to hold the kind of control they do today on such devices... there's no way, for instance, PHB/Mordak the Refuser gets to go poledit.exe crazy on someone's own $2K high end ultrabook, and remove local administrator access.
  • Cost Cutting?

    Unfortunately, decision makers get bonuses for cutting costs, and this will encourage mandatory BYOD. In the long run it may cost companies even more because of the cost of support for myriad devices, and the cost of hiring and maintaining employees may increase because of resistance to mandatory BYOD, company security policies enforced on personal devices, etc. Oh, yeah, decrease in morale and productivity.
    • Hidden costs...

      The savings in capital expenditure will be minimal, compared to the costs of supporting that fleet of diverse equipment. No more WSUS or similar deployments of patches, no centralized push software installation, no more being able to guarantee that everybody is on the same version of a piece of software.

      If you don't mention what software is allowed in the BYOD process, then you will get people using OpenOffice, meaning all those thousands of spreadhseets and word templates which are automated and fill in all the blanks won't work and the results will be a total mess, that can't be automatically read back into the corporate BI tools etc.

      What about those expensive ERP clients etc. The employee isn't going to want to fork out $4,000 on a licence and the corporate licence forbids its installation on non-corporate equipment.

      If that keeps up, you'll be bringing in your own laptop, then using RDP or Citrix to get onto the corporate terminal or app server. The company would have lower support costs if they just bought employees a thin client!
  • Control of data?

    How do you ensure with BYOD that the intellectual property of the company/organization stays with the company when the employee leaves the job? How do you enforce computing policies and standards (encryption, antivirus, OS patches, etc) and not risk becoming responsible for the person's device? Example: I once had a client who brought his personal machine to work and called a problem in to the helpdesk. We got the ticket, went to fix the problem, and the guy claimed we deleted some of his data that was irreplaceable (bank statements, personal pictures, something along those lines) and threatened to sue. Had a similar issue with another client who claimed we caused damage to their machine and held us liable. Sorry, I can't get behind this movement.
  • Metric Google? My APIs Sockets Accept Metric APPs

    Or bring your own cherry picker to work stringing fiber lines on telephone poles.