BYOD: headache or a relief

BYOD, meaning bring your own device (not bring your own drinks!), is a concept met with both interest and dread by business managers.

A policy around BYOD in theory allows staff to use their own laptops, tablet computers or smart phones to do work, and also prepares for the right network capacity and security.

On paper, the concept is great. Businesses can save huge amounts of money on hardware, and the staff get to use the devices they like. However, being sure of having the right security is much more difficult. Many companies tackle this by either allowing employees to select from a small list of approved devices, or by individually checking each device first.

One of the largest tests of BYOD was carried out by telecoms firm O2 earlier this year. Nearly all of the 2,500 staff in its Slough headquarters worked from home on their own devices on one day (with the exception of 125 mission-critical IT staff). Almost nine in 10 reported increased productivity, a figure verified by managers.

Of course, a huge technology effort was made, with O2 upgrading its virtual private network to be able to handle the traffic increase.

Working from home is one aspect of BYOD, but it is a vital one. It, like BYOD as a whole, remains controversial. Perhaps the key to its popularity will be the savings on offer and the security available. Or perhaps it will be whether employees working remotely can use the saved time to their own advantage, or whether they are expected to produce more work!