Technology

Could BYOD Signal the End of the Desk Phone?

By / Dec 5, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Call it a potluck party for office technology. The trend toward employees bringing their own personal devices to work for use on employer-owned networks is on the rise, prompting IT specialists and others to rethink traditional tools and workspaces.

In time, your office may be dishing out smartphone chargers to new employees coming on board instead of assigning a traditional desk phone.

More and more, employees are relying on their personal mobile devices at work. It’s part of the larger bring your own device (BYOD) trend. And if recent research is any indication, your colleagues and coworkers are already knee-deep in the transition—whether they realize it or not.

For instance, a recent survey by cloud phone service provider RingCentral found that 49 percent of employees said they use a mobile device in lieu of the office phone while sitting at their desk.

A 2013 report by Forrester Research, “Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends” [PDF], found that 64 percent of 10,000 information workers surveyed said they use smartphones while sitting at their desks—the same percentage as those who said they use them while commuting.

Just the Beginning

Researchers say the decline of the desktop phone is but a harbinger of changes to come. In RingCentral’s study, 70 percent of the 309 people polled predicted that smartphones would, in time, replace the desk phone entirely. What’s more, some 49 percent of respondents said the the transition would happen within the next three to five years.

Business consulting firm Gartner has gone as far as to predict that BYOD will transition from an option to a requirement in most workplaces by 2017, according to a report from tech news service ZDNet. By as early as 2016, Gartner projects, 38 percent of companies will stop providing employees with certain workplace devices, including desktop PCs and laptops.

“Mobility and BYOD are fundamentally changing business communications by allowing employees to communicate about work matters when, where and how they want—even during personal time,” RingCentral President David Berman said in a statement quoted by eWeek.

Work From Anywhere

According to the RingCentral report, 88 percent of employees said they use their mobile phones for work during personal time—evenings, breaks, weekends, and vacations. Generationally speaking, that broke down to 84 percent of millennials, 90 percent of Gen Xers, and 87 percent of baby boomers respondents.

Some 82 percent of the survey’s respondents said they use mobile computing while traveling between locations, and 68 percent do so while at a nonoffice worksite, such as a customer location.

Smarter Future?

While the potential benefits of BYOD have been well noted, hurdles to effective adoption in the workplace persist. Not the least of them is the need for an effective employer-provided BYOD policy—one that creates appropriate boundaries between work life and personal life and ensures secure use on an employee’s personal device, particularly while connected to an employer-owned network.

Mobile device management software, such as AT&T’s Toggle and BlackBerry Balance, is designed to protect end-user privacy while enabling employees to connect to outside networks. Employers also can install device-tracking programs to protect sensitive data.

And so the question remains: How best to incorporate BYOD in a way that benefits both your staff and your organization? Has your association uncovered any strategies worth sharing? Tell us in the comments.

Emma Beck

Emma Beck is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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