Business leaders are always looking for ways to increase employee satisfaction and productivity. This, of course, can be done in a number of ways and each company has it’s own unique approach. One approach that all companies should be considering adding to the list is “bring your own device,” more commonly referred to as BYOD. This term refers to the practice of allowing employees to use their own personal devices at work, for work. BYOD has received a fair amount of criticism in the media for its potential dangers, and rightfully so. It isn’t a perfect system and still has several issues to work out. However, companies are also finding it extremely beneficial for a number of reasons. One in particular is the environment of trust it tends to foster.
Why trust matters?
First it’s important to establish why trust even matters. After all, shouldn't employees be able to punch the clock and work hard without feeling like their co-workers are their best friends? The reality is that the most successful companies are built on an environment of trust. Trust allows employees to communicate their honest thoughts and concerns, without the fear of rebuke. It opens lines of communication between leaders and their employees. It motivates employees to work harder, knowing that they aren’t being coerced or deceived into something they may not agree with. In short, it empowers employees, which often leads to better work.
How BYOD affects trust
Whenever a company is implementing BYOD trust is a word that will come up frequently. Since there are added security issues with BYOD, enterprises need to ask themselves, whom will we trust with what data or information? What do specific employees need access to? The employees on the lowest rung of the company should not have the same access to company data as the executives for example. Consider the potential dangers if their phone was stolen or lost.
BYOD also affects trust because it sends a message to employees that they know best how to complete their work. When it comes to laptops, tablets and mobile devices, everyone has their own personal preference. Allowing employees to choose how to best complete their work gives them a sense of empowerment. In a more practical sense it will also increase productivity simply because employees likely know how to navigate and effectively use their own personal devices better than company devices.
Many companies that rely on BYOD have also seen a transformation in the actual physical environment of their offices. Because employees are using their own devices, it is not necessary for companies to create workstations. Some companies have taken this a step further by eliminating the cubicle all together and letting employees choose their own place to work each day. This reduces physical barriers in the office that often make employees feel isolated and insignificant. In an open environment employees will communicate and build stronger friendships with co-workers.
The importance of transparency
One of the ways companies can minimize risk and simultaneously increase trust with their employees is to be completely transparent. The news is filled with stories about companies that misled employees and faced major problems as a result. Companies need to make it entirely clear to employees what their policies are regarding BYOD security. They should spend time training and educating employees on what actions are appropriate on a personal device in the workplace and what actions are not. They should teach employees practices that will ensure the safety and security of the company. It is also important to establish clearly defined punishments when policies are violated. When employers and employees know exactly what is expected of each other, trust improves and everyone benefits.