Let’s face it: we are addicted to our phones. Never in the history of human society have we been more connected through, but also more attached to, our personal technology. Part of this can be attributed to COVID-19, which boosted average data usage by as much as 30% in 2020. More recently, a 2021 study found that the average adult spends 5-6 hours a day using their personal smartphone.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that many businesses are now not only allowing, but in some instances requiring, their employees to access company resources from these personal devices. Many employees appreciate the flexibility of bring your own device (BYOD) — and employers enjoy the reduction in their tech budget. But is being available 24/7 by carrying your career around in your pocket really what’s best? What effect does it have on work-life balance?
In this article, we’ll look at the arguments for how work-life balance is positively and negatively affected by BYOD, and discuss how to introduce and manage a BYOD policy.
Argument 1: BYOD Is Good for Work-Life Balance
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies can offer a lot of convenience and flexibility for employees. This is especially true for millenial and Gen Z workers, who grew up with smartphone technology, and are uniquely adept at blending work and personal life.
These employees have this kind of seamless integration modeled for them by digital entrepreneurs, freelancers, and social media influencers. They’re used to waking up early and using their smartphones to check work emails during breakfast, taking a walk while on a Zoom meeting at lunch, working from a coffee shop in the late afternoon, and maybe even logging in for a couple hours before bedtime.
For this type of employee, working on familiar operating systems can increase efficiency and productivity. In fact, a study by Forbes found that 42% of respondents said their productivity increased just from switching to BYOD.
Using personal devices also provides inherent flexibility in where and when employees work, since they can use their personal laptops or smartphones from anywhere. These technological superusers have no problem switching between checking social media notifications and responding to incoming Slack messages, blending their personal iCals with their work Google calendars.
Allowing them to work from anywhere — and giving them the freedom to choose the technology that best suits them in that environment — allows them control of their own schedule and location. BYOD provides the ultimate in work-life balance for this type of employee, where work and play intertwine effortlessly.
Argument 2: BYOD Is Bad for Work-Life Balance
While blending work and personal life may be appealing to some employees, it’s certainly not for everyone. In fact, some workers may find this level of integration to be intrusive and distracting.
Unplugging from your career at the end of a long day is critical for mental health and well-being. But that can become very difficult to do when your work email, Slack channels, and work calendar are connected to the device you used to use only for your private life. In fact, a study by Engyte found that about half of respondents reported they’d be more likely to work overtime if their company implemented BYOD. This lack of a “breather” in between work days can lead to burnout and heightened anxiety, and may jeopardize personal relationships and friendships.
Expecting employees to provide their own tech devices can also pose a struggle for those who don’t have up-to-date smartphones or laptops, or don’t work well on their existing equipment. This can lead to lessened productivity that has to be made up with longer working hours, further decreasing work-life separation.
Finally, BYOD poses a risk for decreased productivity if employees are constantly distracted by non-work-related activities on their personal devices, like text messages and social media. While most employees wouldn’t think to download social apps or connect their private iCloud accounts to work devices, for example, those temptations are readily available on personal devices also used for work.
To BYOD or Not to BYOD
The question of whether or not BYOD will ultimately hurt or help work-life balance in your organization has a frustrating answer: it really depends. Each company’s culture is different. Depending on the age of your employees, their personal work styles and preferences, and whether they prefer blending their work and personal life or keeping them separate, BYOD could be a great thing — or cause undue stress.
Of course, work-life balance concerns with BYOD can always be offset by implementing policies that limit after-hours company communications, thus decreasing employees’ perceived need to work extra. At that point, it really comes down to personal comfort levels.
Assuming your company doesn’t have a strong stance one way or the other, consider making the decision based on employee preference. Start by sending out a survey to gauge interest in BYOD. If interest exists, you can begin by implementing an opt-in BYOD policy, where employees can choose whether to use company-owned devices or their own. At this stage, you can monitor employee productivity and seek feedback to head off any issues as they arise.
With this approach, over time, BYOD may become the chosen norm, or prove not to be a fit for your workforce.
Manage Both BYOD and Company-Owned Devices with a Cloud Directory
Ultimately, whether or not BYOD is right for your organization comes down to your company’s culture, budget, and user preferences. But regardless of whether you elect to require BYOD, allow it, or ban it altogether, the easiest way to manage personal and company-owned devices is with a cloud directory like JumpCloud.
JumpCloud allows you to connect, manage, provision, and deprovision all devices (or self-contained agents installed on private devices) from a single pane. It combines management of identities, devices, security, and resources in one powerful platform to give your IT team seamless control, regardless of your chosen device policy.
If you’re ready to learn how JumpCloud can help you manage your BYOD policy, drop us a note. We’d love to help you design your ideal device management solution. Or, you can try JumpCloud yourself by signing up for a free account. Your first 10 users and 10 systems are free. If you have any questions, access our in-app chat 24×7 during the first 10 days and a customer success engineer will be there to help.