CYOD: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Approach to Mobile Work Devices

Bring Your Own Device (aka BYOD) is many a company's IT headache right now. Employees (like, um, well, me) are bringing their own devices into the workplace and using them to find work-arounds for internal IT-related problems, like:
  • limited network access (including blocked sites),
  • lack of tools, apps or software they need to do their jobs,
  • systems that promote printing which may counteract their desire to be more streamlined (read: virtual) in their approach to work,
  • old or outdated hardware that can be frustrating and slow to use,
  • admin restrictions that prevent downloading of apps and add-ons,
  • (insert your own personal rant about the tech provided to you in your workplace here).
Consider: I decided 18 months ago that paper notebooks were slowing me down. I like to have info at my fingertips, so I always need the ability to search through my notes. You can't CTRL+F a notebook. So I bought my ASUS Transformer Prime tablet, paid for Evernote and Docs to Go, and ditched paper at work. With the ability to read docs on the tablet anywhere and sitting more comfortably than poised at my desktop, I don't need to print to review docs. With my own notes ensconced in the cloud, I can access them from anywhere (except, ironically, my work network) and I can search them (which I do often). Finally, with the ability to access all of my historical notes on the fly (by tethering to my phone since there's no Wifi anywhere at work), I actually have more information at my fingertips than ever.

I'm lucky that I have my own devices to work around the limitations of my work-provided tech. Not everyone is so lucky. And that's where productivity gets impacted negatively. My colleagues and I contend daily with Blackberries that have no instant messaging or consistent and fast web access; no tablets; laptops we can't download to... and we work in IM/IT and web dev. If your only browser is IE, first of all UGH; secondly, how can you test the functionality of your site or apps for all users? That one limitation alone prevents people from doing their jobs.

Recently, I came across an article about an alternative company tech solution that just. makes. sense. It cites the trend of "choose your own device" as opposed to "bring your own device". That is, companies offer employees an a la carte service for tech: they offer a variety of tools and the employees have at least a bit of say by opting for their preferred platform or device type among the options presented. If execs prefer keyboards, they can choose Blackberries. If employees work offsite and need to tether frequently, they may prefer Android. If they use Macs, why not give them iThings. And so on.

In this scenario, the company still gets to control the availability and network security for each device, but permits users to use the tech they prefer or are most comfortable with. And it means less likelihood of staff bending (or even breaking) company policy by using their own devices to circumvent the restrictions of the corporate network or tech.

While the CYOD policy is not completely open, it definitely bridges the gap between BYOD and total organizational control. And it could be a very easy way for companies to boost morale and trust. (Even productivity.) I'd love to see that policy where I work; I don't think they will ever let me connect my personal Androids to the network, but I would be a heck of a lot happier if, when my buggy slow Blackberry gets replaced, they offer me the option to obtain an Android device.

Does your workplace have BYOD or CYOD? What do you think of either approach? What device do you wish you could use at work?

(Source: iTnews)