Workers: Do your part to make BYOD a success

Workers: Do your part to make BYOD a success

Summary: Bringing personal devices to work is gaining in popularity, but it's not without responsibility for the employee.


You've been wistfully hearing about BYOD programs for a while, and finally your employer has started allowing you to bring your own device for work. No matter if the device you're going to use for work is a phone, tablet, or laptop, you want to make sure you do everything you can to make the BYOD program a success. Otherwise you'll be back to using whatever hardware your company deems fit for employees.

Conversations about making BYOD programs a success usually revolve around what the employer and support staff should do. They in great part control the program, and will be the ones to determine if it's working well enough to continue in the future. 

Don't miss the special feature: BYOD and the Consumerization of IT

Having the right attitude will go a long way determining that both sides, employer and worker, get the most benefit out of those bringing their own gadgets to work.

Another big factor in how well BYOD programs work is on the backs of employee participants. Ultimately, if workers don't conduct themselves in a way that helps the company, BYOD will be going away. Having the right attitude will go a long way determining that both sides, employer and worker, get the most benefit out of those bringing their own gadgets to work.

Stick to the suggested device list

Most companies do research when they consider letting employees bring their own gadgetry to work. This often leads to a suggested list of phones, tablets, and laptops that work well with the corporate system. Perhaps internal testing has been conducted that determines what devices are suggested for BYOD use.

Whatever method was employed to approve devices, it is imperative that workers stick to them. Even if your device will almost certainly work, if it's not on the list then it's better to leave it at home.

Bringing other devices implies that you are going to push against BYOD restrictions, and that sets a less-than-favorable tone to this new relationship. It also opens you up to ongoing problems should your gadget have issues when used for work functions. 

When on the clock don't do personal things

You may be tempted to do fun things at work when using your own tablet or phone, but don't fall into this trap. Just because you're using your beloved device doesn't change the fact that you're being paid to do a certain job. Your employer deserves your undivided attention in this effort.

If folks at work see you checking Facebook or playing games on your tablet, even if you're on a break, the impression will be that you're goofing off inappropriately. If this happens enough, and with numerous BYOD participants, it's likely the program will be deemed a failure by those that control it. BYOD may end up going away, and you'll be stuck using whatever clunky gear is assigned to you, as in the old days.

Support staff is your friend — don't abuse the relationship

The corporate IT staff is tasked with helping workers with issues affecting the ability to do a good job, and this applies to those who use their own gear. Understand that this complicates their job, as they might not be familiar with your particular gadget. That's more likely if your device is not on the suggested gadget list as previously mentioned.

If you have trouble doing work functions with your gear, by all means ask the support staff for help. Contrary to what some believe, most IT personnel are conscientious and willing to go the distance to help workers. 

Keep support requests to work-related issues. As helpful as the support staff may be, asking them to help you with your personal email, for example, is pushing things. They're not expected to help with non-work apps and operation, nor should they be.

Above all else, always be respectful to your IT department. They don't deserve any less.

Stick to established procedure

If you're a tech-savvy device owner, you may think your way of doing something is better than the established work procedure. Even if it is, do it the way the company sanctions it to be done.

Maybe your way is better than the defined procedure, but not following the company way will create problems for you and your employer. Support issues in this area will become unclear to resolve, and you won't win any friends in the IT department.

Feel free to respectfully point out your preferred method to IT, but don't push it. Their job is hard enough as it is, they don't need to argue company policy or procedure with you just because you bring your own device to work.

Keep an extra charger in the office

We've all forgotten to charge the tablet or other device at some point, and run out of juice during the day. That's not a big deal normally, but in BYOD situations that's unacceptable. The company is letting you bring your own gear for work, and it's your responsibility to make sure it's able to do that for the entire work day.

The easiest way to make sure your gadget always has juice is to keep an extra power charger at work. They aren't that expensive so it's not a big deal to keep one in your desk, or car if you work in the field. Make sure you can give your employer a full day's work.

Give BYOD a decent chance

Allowing employees to use their own gadgetry for work purposes is a new approach. Done right, BYOD can benefit both the employer and the employee. Success of the BYOD program depends on both sides doing what's expected, and these guidelines will go a long way to meet the worker's responsibilities.

See related:

BYOD: Like inviting your boss into your house when you're not home

The ABC's of BYOD for the SMB

BYOD: Death of the nonworking vacation?

5 things not to do when telecommuting

Home workers: Get out and meet people

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, Bring Your Own Device

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  • BYOD? Why?

    I understand that a lot of employees feel that they have better IT equipment than their employers, but why would you be willing to subsidize your company's bottom line?
    Why would you volunteer to pay for your company's cell phone and hardware bills?
    This makes no sense.

    If my employer wants to use my wireless plan and hardware, they need to reimburse me for my expenses.
    Why would anyone want this and even allow this?

    At the very least, pay employees $25 - $50 per month to use their smartphones and plans.
    This saves the company money and the employee.
    It's fair, for both parties.

    Making employees pay 100% for this is just wrong.
    But the sheep are lining up and begging to be sheered...
    • Reimbursment

      "At the very least, pay employees $25 - $50 per month to use their smartphones and plans"

      We pretty much do BYOD this way now. I can't imagine not offering this to our employees.

      For my own part, I would much rather have people using secure web apps from personal devices than some of the shit they would do on company issued devices.
      • people do that, for now

        It is possible that, in the future, a cost-saving technique will be to eliminate those stipends.

        In the past, one didn't need a college degree to get a decent job, either.

        In short: Something happened and requirements change.
    • Agreed....I would never use my own device for business.

      Just too many legal risks in using your own device. Any institution which deals with HIPPAA information, or company secrets, proprietary info, etc... and it gets on your device, may cost you plenty of grief. It is the employer's responsibility to supply all that is needed to do your job. In many states, that is the law.

      No thanks.
  • IT Department

    you say, that the IT department is there to help users do their jobs. You missed a very important part of that sentence out:

    Within the law and within company policy.

    There are often good reasons why you can't do something the way you want - it is often illegal, when doing it that way on behalf of a company.
  • List not for power users.

    I agree on the List if it's user by the average tech worker. For power users, I couldn't disagree more with some things.

    Essentially: If you don't know about IT, you don't have a choice but to trust the IT guys, so play by their rules. If you do know IT, you know how the game is played (i.e there's no game at all in the rare case that IT is technologically competent and socially adept).
    • edit

      Forgot proofreading. On a related note, when will zdnet comments get an edit option?
      • Microsoft Word does that work now - expensive staff aer passe

        Blue, red, and green squiggles are ubiquitous, and like Zdnet is the only place that has cut back on professional expenses...
        • yes, I put in a typo

          I also posted for free. :)
    • As

      ex IT-Manager of the company and long time programmer and admin, I have to disagree.

      I am now in a role where I am no longer in charge of IT and it doesn't matter how much knowledge I have - our admins often ask me questions about how things can be done - but I still have to tow the company line and curb the way I want to use devices for the way I am allowed to use devices.

      Very often, as I said above, it is legal requirements, especially in relation to data protection, that cause the limitations of what I can and can't do, not technical knowledge or "belidgerant" IT staff.
      • not sure we're talking about the same thing

        From my experience, competent IT staff is rare, and whenever I meet some I treat them with respect.

        That's why I wrote "If you do know IT", because that's required to figure out if IT is competent and the limitations are real, or not.
        • How many of them are overseas?

          or many of them are wearing big bright blue shirts?

          I can't exactly disagree with your post, though... most of them parrot the spoonfed lines, and some of those are from third party groups and symposiums that don't actually see how every business works. (Not that their comments aren't valuable, but blanket concepts don't fit every situation and that's where the problems begin, when management and technicians blindly take glib generations being extolled as gospel...)
    • IT is supposed to be there for the users

      Not the other way around - either directly as mandates, or covertly as "recommendations", backhanded compliments, and the rest. That's how it was 20 years ago, there is no reason why things needed to change. Many, if not most, end users are definietly not more savvy now compared to back then... :(
  • 2-way street

    I agree, BYOD is a two way street that requires support from both employers and employees. The disruptive innovation of mobile technologies provides an opportunity to change behavior in today’s workplace. But convincing people to transform their mobile processes into streamlined, secure workflows requires proper engagement about change, ensuring that new processes are as easy and natural as possible.

    Xerox and McAfee commissioned a survey, which found that more than half of employees say they don't always follow their company's IT security policies and 33 percent aren't even aware of the policies. In my opinion, procedures need to be implemented from the top down. If management isn’t following or aware of procedures, how will they enforce them? Security breaches can cost companies thousands of dollars, so it’s important that there are policies for any device that connects to the network, including smart printers – they too connect to the network and if they aren’t secured they become vulnerable to hackers.

    Every employee should understand the security policies in place and exactly why they are implemented in order to safeguard data. – Mike Feldman, President, Large Enterprise Operations, Xerox Corporation @mikefeldmanNY
  • Asusming workers have the money to buy the tools for the job

    And are just as security-conscious and as up-to-date in drivers, knowledge, and the rest of it that people in IT have to keep up on regularly - combined with their own primary job duties.

    Still, blame the worker, blame the victim, blame all except those that actually make the top-level decisions. Crack that whip!