Hold onto your hats and follow the BYOD generation

Resistance is futile

A recent survey has suggested that young people would be willing to accept lower pay as long as they could use their own mobile devices in the workplace

Really? Would and should an employer be happy to take somebody on who values personal data access over and above core compensation for a job well done?

If this trend is real, then how should companies strike a balance between capturing the energy of young workers bent on BYOD (bring your own device) on the one hand, and sitting them down to tell them this is not how a business actually works on the other?

What are the true costs of BYOD and what do employees today feel about the tradeoffs they are being asked to make with their beloved devices?

Young and proud

The arrival of the so-called Millennials, or Generation Y, describes a demographic cohort born anywhere from the 1990s, perhaps even the 1980s, through to the early part of the 2000s.

About 1,400 of these were surveyed as part of Cisco's second annual Connected World Technology Report. It suggested that the growing use of the web and mobile devices in the workplace is having a significant impact on jobs, hiring and work-life balance.

The report suggests 45 per cent of young professionals would accept a lower salary if they were allowed social media in the workplace

p>The report states: "The ability to use social media, mobile devices and the internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence job choice, sometimes more than salary."

The report somewhat precariously suggests that as many as 40 per cent of college students, and 45 per cent of young professionals, would accept a lower salary if they were allowed more open access to social media in the workplace, but this hints at a more deep-rooted issue.

This supposed cyber-angst has come about because some employers still ban use of social media in the workplace. Progressive business thinkers generally agree that the only successful business today is a social one, but some firms fail to grasp this.

Of course, delineating between personal and corporate social media usage is another matter.

“In this day and age it’s hard for me to believe that any company would not allow the use of personal applications such as Twitter in the workplace,” says Phoebe Scott, a 22-year-old who works in communications.

“In my job, it’s a necessity so my employer encourages its use. To my knowledge, the company doesn’t mind what device I’m using, and I have never been subject to any policies.

“It would be my assumption in any office that I could connect to WiFi and use my personal device, so if I was in a job interview and was told the salary was lower but I would have more BYOD freedom, I would walk away. The use of personal devices shouldn’t be a bonus, it should just be the norm.”

No joking matter

Similarly resolute on this matter is 27-year-old Karl O’Doherty. He says that a lower salary based on the assumption that he can’t focus enough on his work to avoid sending jokes to friends on Facebook all day is a step too far.

“I would feel that a company that attempted to pay me less based on this idea didn’t really value me. It implies that I am no more than a replaceable part in a machine, rather than being a unique fit to a role in the organisation,” he says.

“If a job requires a mobile device to be used for professional reasons, it should be supplied anyway.”

IDC software development research analyst Al Hilwa thinks different kinds of companies operate on different levels of security and data protection, so logically BYOD may not be for everyone.

“However, I see this largely as a problem that will ultimately be resolved by technology. There are software solutions that firms can use to isolate their data and protect it in a BYOD space,” he says.

“Hardware solutions may even evolve down the line that allow users effectively to carry two isolated phones or hardware/software stacks in a single smartphone device enclosure, sharing only the screen and camera.”

The Cisco survey may be spun out of some PR-driven agenda to get us talking about BYOD, but it also suggests that BYOD in the real world is a gateway to greater business benefits.

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of IT leaders surveyed categorised BYOD as either “somewhat” or “extremely” positive for their companies, while at the same time recognising that it resents significant challenges for IT.

Respect, man

Quite who would really accept a lower BYOD-compliant salary is anybody’s guess. The reality of the situation is that firms today do not fully know how to cope with the work-life balance caused by rising social-media usage and BYOD confusion.

Generation Y is not stupid enough to confuse Facebook with hard work and you should never trust a potentially contrived IT industry survey.

Ultimately it is all about being "down with the users” so that IT can assess real needs for the workplace, as well as personal tastes and device and application aspirations.

It is about something thing called respect – and Generation Y seems to like that word, doesn’t it?

Your BYOD policy may look robust, but would it earn Millennial-level respect? ®

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