What does BYOD mean to your team?

2012

In our ongoing effort to mediate the strife between IT and us mere mortals, we periodically like to fill you in on the discussions that go on between the scenes. Today we look at the phrase "BYOD", which is muttered in security and IT circles in a dark, ominous manner.

BYOD stands for "Bring Your Own Device", and is not to be confused with BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) although the conversations frequently would be easier if everyone were a little looped and more relaxed.

Still, this is a big deal. People now have iPads, Tablets, and Smartphones. They also have personal laptops that will often be much more powerful and easier to transport than the five year-old refurbished brick they got from IT. What's wrong with using the most convenient tools for the job? Why shouldn't we be able to use the tools we like best and allow us to be most productive?

How does BYOD impact you and your team? Well there are a number of ways. I'm not saying we should or shouldn't use them, but here are the issues that need to be addressed to have peace in the kingdom.

Are people using devices in meetings for work or to keep themselves awake? Many people are frustrated that during meetings, people have their heads down and are busily pecking away at keyboards of all kinds.

Sometimes, people are just being rude or inattentive. Sometimes they are finding answers that used to have to be researched after the meeting in the old days and actually making the meeting more effective. The trick isn't the use of devices, it's whether people are engaged in what's going on at the moment.

Do you know why people used to not do that "back in the day?". Because they couldn't. When you were starting, if they had a way to mentally escape that Friday afternoon status meeting, you'd have taken it too. Set expectations for device use in meetings and hold people accountable. Seriously, it's possible.

Security DOES matter. We have often made fun of IT for being overly cautious about security, but it's a very real issue. If the choice is between your not having to carry that laptop to a meeting and infecting the entire organization, buy a laptop bag with wheels.

The truth is, though, that the world is changing. IT needs to think about the nature of the business and how people are working. We no longer live in a world where everyone comes in to the office and stops working when they leave. On the other hand, if there are legitimate reasons like network security and customer privacy issues (and actual laws about how data needs to be handled), nobody cares if you're a "Mac person". Follow the rules. Both sides need to be realistic about what is non-negotiable, and what is just easier to do. They aren't always mutually exclusive.

At some point you need to speak the same language to get work done. With some people using type of device, and some another, it can be frustrating. It might not seem like a big deal, but a lot of time and frustration is lost when someone creates a document and sends it to the rest of the team, only to find they can't open it because they're using different versions of the software or different tools entirely.

This means the team should have clear systems in place and standards for technology. What version and software will you create and save documents in? As a manager, hold people accountable for taking the time (and it's usually laziness and not bothering to check how you're saving documents that's at the core, here) to communicate in a way that's fair and convenient for the rest of the team.

The whole concept of BYOD is new, and it's confusing for everyone. How about a little love for the people responsible for setting up the systems, and a little compassion for those of us trying to get the work done in the easiest, most effective manner?

What's your team doing about BYOD?

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a speaker, writer and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. He’s passionate about helping people present, sell and lead people and projects using today’s virtual communication technology. His books include Meet Like You Mean It - a Leader’s Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings. Wayne is based in Chicago, IL.