As far back as early 2018, as much as 70% of the world’s workforce already worked from home at least once a week. Since then increasing technological capabilities coupled with world-shaking events like the response to the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed a huge number of schools and businesses to adapt to a remote work and classroom model. In fact, it’s currently estimated that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home for multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
If your organization is considering this shift to a remote-heavy workspace, here are some of the pros and cons involved in adopting a BYOD standard for your operation.
There are several distinct advantages that naturally come with a BYOD policy. Some of these are more poignant in the classroom while others are more significant in an office and still others apply to both equally:
The efficiency and savings involved in having both students and employees bring their own devices can be significant. This is particularly effective in workplaces where hundreds and even thousands of dollars can quickly be spent on establishing and maintaining a single individual’s tech setup.
When employees and students are able to choose their own devices, they are able to use gadgets that they are already familiar with and may prefer over other models. They are also more likely to appreciate and respect their own devices and will be less likely to physically damage them. In addition, they are already familiar with the user experience related to their particular piece of equipment and do not need to shift from one setup to another as they move from personal tech use to work-related activities.
When an employee is expected to provide their own device, it provides the flexibility to choose an option that they actually prefer rather than operating on a company-chosen operating system. The same can go for students, although their comparative lack of income can quickly translate to fewer quality options for them to choose from.
Employees and students alike prefer to keep their personal technology up-to-date. When a BYOD policy is in effect, it removes the need for employers or schools to oversee the maintenance of their company tech in the hands of employees or students.
While there are plenty of advantages to a BYOD policy, these should be carefully weighed against the disadvantages as well.
Companies and schools shouldn’t ignore the fact that a BYOD standard pushes the cost of purchasing technological devices onto their employees and students respectively. This increases the operational costs on a personal level and can quickly impact an employee’s salary or even push a struggling student to drop out of school due to the costs.
When you are willing to embrace Apple, Microsoft, and Google products in the form of tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops, it’s very difficult to police security standards for your network. Establishing security standards and providing cybersecurity guidelines and recommendations can ameliorate this issue, but it won’t eliminate it completely.
Another side effect that accompanies such diversity in technology is the struggle to address technical issues that may arise. Unless you’re willing to undermine the cost-effectiveness of a BYOD model by creating a large and diverse IT department, it can be extremely challenging to deal with the variety of technological conundrums that can arise. Everything from login issues to backups and even a full-blown hard drive recovery must be addressed, all while your employees or students are using a patchwork of different devices to access the classroom or workspace.
It’s easy to create a remote workspace when you know what kind of device everyone will be using. You can simply choose platforms and applications that work with your operating system. A BYOD approach complicates the situation, as you must ensure that each piece of software that you utilize is supported by all of the devices that may be used within your network.
Finally, it’s difficult to scale a BYOD setup. Whether you’re a school administrator putting emphasis on a remote classroom model in the wake of a pandemic or you’re a workspace administrator making room for a larger remote workforce, allowing students or employees to use their own devices as your organization grows opens the doors for an increasing number of variables to go wrong at any given moment.
With so many pros and cons, it can be difficult to decide whether your organization should provide equipment or you should pass the responsibility on to your employees and students. Here are a few questions to ask in order to assess which option is better for your particular situation:
Can you police security and update policies across a variety of different devices?
Do you have a way to effectively oversee upkeep on personal devices used for work or school?
Will a BYOD measure be cost-effective for you without being too much of a burden on your staff or students?
If you need to scale your activities in the future, will BYOD be a barrier to those efforts?
Your answers to the above questions can help you gain perspective and decide if a BYOD model is best for your workplace or school in both the short and the long term.