Photo courtesy Davidmace13 via Wikimedia Commons
Smart phones, tablets, laptops and Bluetooth devices and other electronics are becoming a more commonplace sight in the workplace. But how can you determine which devices should be provided by employers and which private devices should be allowed in working environments?
It’s a conversation that is being held in workplaces nationwide. There’s even a name for it: “BYOD” or “Bring Your Own Devices”. As workers become more enamored with their smart phones and other devices, many management teams are struggling to create rules of when, where and how it’s appropriate to use them on the job.
Intelligent Media You Can Wear?
The debate over the use of personal high tech devices in the workplace is expected to become even more complex with the introduction of ”Bring Your Own Wearable” — or BYOW — devices such as Google Glass, Apple watches and other wearable media.
Perhaps a compromise can be reached, with workers being allowed to use some devices at work as long as they use them productively. That’s the viewpoint of Jesse Robbins, owner and CEO of OnBeep, a San Francisco-based startup.
Robbins’ company is developing a device known as Onyx. It’s a lightweight wearbable communications device that allows workers to constantly communicate with co-workers, sort of like a high-tech walkie-talkie — or group texting using your voice and in real time.
Onyx has many applications both within and outside of the workplace, according to Robbins. For example, it can allow event planners, construction workers, restaurant employees and others to keep in constant communication with each other to improve service and delivery more efficiently. But it also can be used by family members planning a surprise birthday party or a group of friends on a cross-country road trip.
Personal and Professional Lives Intersect
Onyx was always meant to be owned by the private individual, but used both the workplace and in their personal life.
“BYOD was part of a conscious design strategy,” Robbins told Wired. ”What we are doing is only possible because people already have their own smart phones which they are using for work and play.”
Research indicates that OnBeep may be on to something. A recent study from the consulting group IDG fond that 82% of organizations have had to make changes due to the widespread use of personal devices in the workplace.
Use of BYODs Expected to Increase
The workplace may be the perfect use for BYOD and BYOW gadgets, said Shane Walker, an analyst for the research firm IHS. For example, a cable installer could wear live-streaming, mounted camera on his headgear that helps him consult with other technicians and figure out what’s wrong with your connection. And nurses could wear Google Glass to see veins beneath your skin.
Plus, they could use this same media to check their Fantasy Football standings, exchange text messages with friends, and keep up with their favorite news streams such as BuzzFeed.
“At the simplest level, basing anyone’s business model on the installed based for smartphones is viable,” Walker said, referring to research that predicts the number of smart phones will triple to 5.6 billion by 2019.
Still, Walker and others acknowledge that it’s natural for companies to push back against devices like the Onyx, especially if they don’t aren’t issuing them to employees themselves.