According to the Citrix Global Bring-Your-Own (BYO) Index released in July 2011, 92 per cent of companies polled reported that they were aware their employees were using personal devices for work-related tasks.

Additionally, it was found that the percentage of employees using non-company-issued computing devices for work-related tasks is set to reach 35 per cent by mid-2013.

With the rapid proliferation and evolution of smartphones, tablets and powerful lightweight laptops, employees have increasing expectations of and demands on the devices they use for work.

Indeed, the consumerisation of information technology (IT) is changing the workplace landscape across the globe, creating new ways of working.

Win-win for both enterprises and employees

Adopting a formal BYO policy in the workplace will be a novel way of allowing employees to use their own personal computers, notebooks, smartphones or tablets for work.

A BYO policy could lead to a win-win situation for both enterprises and employees. Some of the benefits are:

Attracting and retaining talent

With more and more digital natives — who live and breathe technology — joining the workforce, employers are increasingly coming face-to-face with employees who do not want to work on the corporate computers.

These employees, who usually own three or more devices, look for organisations that are forward-thinking enough to encourage device flexibility.

By adopting a BYO policy, employers meet the expectations of their digital generation employees and, as a result, achieve a new way to attract and retain talent.

Increased efficiency and cost savings on IT resources

A significant portion of IT resources is dedicated to managing and maintaining corporate desktops or laptops, and handling user support requests.

A BYO policy allows chief information officers (CIOs) to save time and resources working on support issues.

By transferring ownership of the device, CIOs can foster a sense of responsibility among employees to maintain and safeguard their personal belongings. With online help communities and manufacturer warranty services, employees will have a solid self-service model to depend upon if they encounter issues.

CIOs can then focus on strategic projects instead of playing an administrative role, increasing overall efficiency and potential cost savings on device management and maintenance.

Better work-life balance

Employees will have the freedom and flexibility to choose where, when and how they want to work, no matter what the device. This means that activities that were previously desk-bound can now be done on the move.

The biggest benefit for employees with a BYO policy is the opportunity for better work-life balance. For example, a mother can attend to her sick child during office hours and then log on again later in the night on her tablet. 

Greater workforce efficiency and productivity

The original division between personal and business computing creates complexity and inconvenience, with the constant shift among different work devices, smartphones, tablets and other personal devices.

A formal BYO policy, coupled with a secure virtualised desktop solution can enable employees to work on the same desktop regardless of the device they use.

This means that employees familiar with a certain device can use their personal devices for greater efficiency, increasing workforce productivity.

Desktop virtualisation

Security and compliance concerns remain key barriers to any BYO assessment. By using non-company authorised devices for work-related tasks, employees may be unintentionally putting their corporate data at risk.

Not surprisingly, CIOs are faced with an uphill task of trying to own, secure and manage laptops for an increasingly mobile and independent workforce. 

Enter desktop virtualisation, a technology that allows organisations to manage and deliver virtual desktops and applications centrally from the data centre.

Through desktop virtualisation, the two key challenges of adopting a BYO policy — security and compliance — are addressed.

By enabling CIOs to centrally manage and secure desktops, applications and data in the data centre, business information is always secure.

Even when data is stored on the end-point device, CIOs will have the ability to remotely erase data in the event the device is lost or stolen. It is also possible for CIOs to deliver desktops and applications straight from the data centre to any device, simplifying device management.

BYO is the future

The global and mobile workplace of today is no longer bound by office walls and regular work hours.

Business happens whenever and wherever, and people want fast, easy access to business applications and resources from any device that they choose.

With the right policies, administration and cutting-edge virtualisation technologies, BYO can become a successful initiative that benefits management, IT and employees alike, while ensuring that companies remain a competitive force in the market.