Nearly 80 Percent of Employees Bring Their Personal Mobile Device to Work

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By: Jacqueline Lee|

According to a new Gartner survey, only 23 percent of employees say they have received employer-issued smartphones. According to Mikako Kitagawa, principal research analyst at Gartner, more than half of employees exclusively use their personal mobile device in the workplace.

Eight in 10 employers issue some type of electronic device to employees, with more than half of workers receiving desktop computers. Thirty-seven percent of employees receive laptops, a growing number of which are convertible. Of the employees who receive employer-issued smartphones, according to Help Net Security, they’re generally quite satisfied with them: Less than 20 percent report unhappiness with their employer-issued mobile devices.

Gartner also found that the use of tablets lags far behind the use of desktop computers, laptops and smartphones. Only 21 percent of employees currently use tablets for work, whether they’re issued by the employer or personally owned. “Smartphones and phablets are the most popular personally owned devices used for work, with 39 percent of employees using them, compared with just 10 percent who are only using corporate-issued smartphones and phablets,” says Kitagawa.

How BYOD Has Evolved

When the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon began to take hold, businesses tended to treat it as a problem they had to combat. Many began exploring the idea of purchasing and issuing personal mobile devices to key employees. Employer-issued smartphone initiatives, however, often met resistance on two fronts.

First, employers didn’t want to expend the capital to purchase devices and to continue upgrading them regularly. Second, employees strongly preferred certain devices — usually according to which operating system was familiar to them — which caused them to default to their personal devices when performing work rather than sticking to the employer-issued devices.

BYOD presents organizations with an array of challenges, including infrastructure, security and cost allocation. Mobile devices in the workplace add many new endpoints to the network; when these devices are employee-owned rather than employer-issued, their endpoints become a motley jumble of app ecosystems, operating systems and risk vessels for the organization.

Because most employees use smartphones for both work and personal activities, organizations prefer not to depend entirely on human judgment to protect their data. Businesses of all sizes rely on mobile device management (MDM) tools, which help to segregate and sometimes block data on employee devices, regulate access to the corporate network and remotely wipe lost or stolen devices.

Containing Costs

Organizations have also struggled to allocate costs that employees incur when using their personal smartphones for work — particularly related to cellular data consumption and, within global companies, international calling. Many employees also expect financial assistance when upgrading to new phones since the company expects them to use their phones to perform work.

Businesses find different ways to cope with these costs. Some companies that use MDM assign usage costs to different departments; if an accounting team member uses data in the course of doing business, the accounting department pays for the data. Other companies give individual employees an allowance for personal mobile device costs or pay a percentage of employee phone bills, while employees pay for the remainder.

Some employers have made rustles about refusing to reimburse BYOD costs, but the courts have weighed in on this issue — and not in the employer’s favor. In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, as Forbes reports, the California Court of Appeals ruled that employers must provide “reasonable compensation” for employees who use devices at work.

Personal Mobile Device Usage Is Here to Stay

Gartner’s Kitagawa is a fan of employer-issued mobile devices. “While it’s true that the cost of providing mobile devices can quickly escalate,” she says, “proper usage of mobile devices can increase productivity, which can easily justify the extra costs.”

Even so, many businesses don’t want to allocate capital to buy everyone a smartphone. BYOD isn’t going anywhere.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

Articles by Jacqueline Lee
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