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BYOD workers, like remote workers, are more engaged.

January 2, 2013

BYOD on secure wireless networks

I have noticed that people who take up our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) offer are more tolerant of technical problems with their devices than people who I provide a device for.  They also appear to be highly motivated towards making the corporate environment a better place – and are proud to be personally doing something about it.

As certain as death and taxes, all devices will crash from time to time. To use a completely unscientific generalisation, I have observed that the BYOD crowd, re-start, try again and get on with it, while the corporate device crowd move more quickly from patience to frustration.

When we launched our BYOD scheme at Solihull, we were concerned that it would create an increase demand in reactive IT support. So far this has not been the case – we are monitoring and it appears not to be causing a problem. We have a Support Your Own Device bulletin board where real BYOD users can ask question and provide answers to support each other.

I was intrigued recently to read a Harvard Business Review blog showing that people who work remotely from their leaders were more engaged, more committed and rated their leader more highly than people who shared an office with their leader. ( )

The Harvard blogger, Scott Edgar, identifies 4 key reasons why remote workers are more engaged, centred mostly on the physical distance creating a need for people (both leaders and followers) to connect more.

There’s another thing though. I’m certain with BYOD, the sense of personal ownership, creates a commitment. At Solihull, nobody is forced to bring their own device – but if they want to, we have secure options they can use. So people have chosen the device, chosen to spend their money on it and chosen to use it at work. If something goes wrong, people share more in the current situation and in the problem solving. It’s not just “them doing something to me”.

I’m sure there is something similar in the remote and home worker. If you have chosen the environment you work in to be your home, there is no-one but you to grumble at about the room temperature, office noise, or whether you have a window seat. If you think you need more management attention, it’s up to you to pick up the phone. So you do. The sense of personal choice has created a sense of personal ownership which creates a sense of engagement.

The Harvard analysis shows that remote workers do not have a monopoly on being engaged (many conventional office workers are too). And neither do BYOD workers have a unique charm. Most of our Solihull staff with corporate devices are highly motivated. It’s just that many of the BYOD vanguard appear to be particularly cheerful and enthusiastic about doing their jobs, which adds an edge.

As it is with “remote workers”, so it is with “BYOD workers”. More engaged, more connected, more efficient.

[Thanks to Secure Edge networks for the picture, by the way]

From → BYOD

  1. I’ve been using my own devices at work for around 10 years now. It started out as just a mobile phone and PDA, then around 6 years ago I started to bring my trusty old iBook in as a replacement for pen and paper notebooks. I faced a lot of resistance, but as it was just for taking notes and no actual data was involved, I “got away with it”. I also used it to access the secure email portal (originally designed for home access) which was useful when I was away from my desk. Then the iPad came along and everything changed. People wanted to do the same as me, I said there was nothing stopping them, but the people with more power in the organisation wanted their full corporate apps and data.

    It’s an interesting shift as there’s nothing you can do on your own device that you can’t do on a corporately provided piece of equipment (work related of course), but it does give you much more freedom to balance your life!

    This coupled with a more modern working ethos such as “work is a thing you do not a place you go, or how long you take to do it” will change how organisations engage with staff. Some roles will lend themselves naturally to this, while others will never fully be able to take advantage of it, but change is coming. Shift happens!

    • Good points Alan. For me there is a world of difference between bring your own device and use it to make notes with – and bring your own device to access corporate systems and data. The first is fine in its way but not the full “worker experience”. And not much more challenging to a technical architecture than “bring your own wrist watch”.

      True BYOD (the second type, with corporate access) has, of course, all the security problem solving challenges which have created the rich variety of solutions we currently see on the market. Bigger benefits to the user and much more exciting as a work ethos transformation catalyst.

      But I’m sure we would not have achieved the second without pioneers doing the first and banging on the door of corporate IT. The shift doesn’t happen without passionate, visionary people being demanding.

  2. I find SOCITM a nuisance. As obtaining information about community centres in a particular part of Wales, it kept on popping up, interrupting what was doing and there was NO way I could permanently STOP these interruptions. I have had to leave my research for information until I try again and will SOCITM keep interrupting yet again/

    • Ken,

      Socitm does very many things, one of them is running the customer satisfaction measures for local authority web sites. I’m sorry to hear you find this annoying, but I do think that your research activities, swapping between different local authority web sites every few minutes, makes you quite an unusual user! For most users, typically using one council site, the survey is only offered once a year, provided they have cookies enabled.

      For people surveying multiple council sites, it can be irritating, obviously. Some of our own Socitm researchers would agree with you! However, the benefits of the survey in terms of contribution to improving council websites, and as a mechanism for people to provide actual feedback, are many.

      Around 25,000 surveys are being completed a month, so significant numbers continue to support the survey in this way.

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