Unify Blog

“Going to work” to many of us means taking a car, or a train, or a subway, or a bus, to commute daily to the office. But as we find new ways to work, we begin doing the traditional commute less and less, and we begin utilizing alternative work environments, in particular, working from home or the coffee shop. And, as we no longer search for work-life balance, but more accurately, work-life integration, I am curious about one fundamental aspect of the new way to work that IT managers are not leveraging.

Simply, why do organizations buy their employees a computer or in many instances, a phone? The company doesn’t pay for the employee’s car, or pay their bus fare directly. Are knowledge worker based organizations missing out on a cost savings opportunity? Most of these type of employees already own a computer and a smartphone. And seriously, how many tablets does this employee own? I bet it is at least one, probably two or more. So, if every employee already owns a personal computer and a smartphone and a tablet, why are organizations still buying employees a computer and smartphone when they join the company? And then that equipment needs to be maintained, upgraded, etc? Why? Why wouldn’t an organizations IT department take that money and pour it into improving the internal IT infrastructure (e.g. security, collaboration tools, etc) necessary to enable any employee to work anywhere, anytime, ON THEIR OWN DEVICES (BYOD). The company saves money, both in terms of equipment purchases but also in terms of support (can anyone say “Genius Bar”?). The company can then take that money and reinvest it into tools to make that mobile worker more productive.
What is most important about this? Not the money (though that is huge), but it is the humanity (*human experience*) of the solution that I think would be so appealing. Employees will be happier with greater work flexibility, and ability to use their own devices, and they will work more (truly blurring work-life) and they will be more productive. And the secret truth of every IT organization is – they don’t want you to have the latest technology – is because they can’t support it. IT is not some terrible monster that wants to make sure every employee stays on WordStar and Lotus 1-2-3. Every new technology requires significant investment and requires new support capabilities. So, erase the problem. We all feel that IT gives us “last year’s technology” and isn’t as good as what we have at home. So, let’s use what we have at home. I really don’t understand why this simple employee morale booster and cost saving idea has not gotten more traction. We all want to work from anywhere, in a new way to work mentality, so why not do that?

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Posted in Executive Blogs, Mobile Working, New Way To Work, Virtual Teams
4 comments on “Why do organisations buy employees computers?
  1. Frank Fender says:

    I agree, Bill. Many software development companies give each developer a personal $5,000 annual budget to spend on any technology they find compelling. Actually, that figure was from several years ago, so probably higher now. Wait, that wasn’t the idea, right?! 🙂 An Enterprise expense in technology for knowledge workers should not be seen as wasteful overhead, it should be viewed as an investment in your company’s ability to stay relevant using, collaborating, and developing on the most efficient and compelling technologies of the day.

    • Bill Hurley says:

      Frank – totally agree. I believe the enterprise should take that 5k, and invest some of it centrally to improve infrastructure such as security, bandwidth, etc. and save the rest. Unless the enterprise gives the employee money today for bus fare, my point is – are we getting to a point with personal technology that it is “just part of life”. Most people already own a laptop, so why not let them use that, and save the company money?

      • Felipe Melo says:

        Interesting point of view. Today I have tried to work @home without any company owned device. Guess what? I could collaborate using Circuit, make and receive internal calls, participate in audioconferences in my own smartphone, send and receive emails via webmail, start tasks and review my CRM reports. There was only one thing I could not do: access the corporate drive, which I am looking forward to discontinue soon.

        In the end, security/confidentiality concerns will always be related to the users intentions, doesn’t matter if they are using a company device or any other device in the world.

  2. Pete Waite says:

    Has the BYOD concept got to a point where the stringent policies such as; “if you use your device for work then the employer can wipe/destroy it without any warning whatsoever” are no longer in play? This was the position the last time I considered using my personal smartphone for work email…I bailed at that point – when I have to consider not risking storing my own stuff on my own device that’s too much integration for me.