Plan a realistic technology life cycleOne of the reasons I've seen that people start thinking about bringing their own machines into work is when their machine at work is so old and out of date that you can't get work done. Whether the machine is just slow or it can't run new apps, that feeling that you're working on an antique makes you start wondering if IT really understands what people need to get their job done. Truthfully, most IT folks know very well when people are dealing with outdated machines, they often don't have the power to do anything about it. This is where company and IT leadership need to step in and plan for how often machines get refreshed. Computers more than 3 years old are going to start feeling old and outdated, so think about when those machines are retired and given new homes (in Vancouver Free Geek accepts old machines and gives them new life for low income families). One way to get more time out of your technology investment is to have a practical hand-me-down system. For example, developers and designers need much more powerful machines than people who only create documents all day. When a machine is too slow for a developer, it could still have a serviceable life for someone with much less demanding tech needs. Which brings me to the next antidote: role-based technology allocations.
Give power users more powerful machinesAll too often--and all of us have seen it--the people who get new, powerful computers aren't the people who need powerful machines. Too often, and I've seen this first hand, more senior people, regardless of their role, get the best machines, while the people who need powerful machines have to fight tooth and nail to get what they need. We know this is wrong and doesn't make sense, but it still happens all too often. When I've been in development and design roles and hit this problem, I simply brought in my own machine. I need to get stuff done and getting the tools to do it through normal channels is too much hassle, so I go around the channels.
What needs to happen is to match roles to technology. Sales people need machines that are thin and light with good battery life so they can give presentations and make the sale. Developers need machines that support multiple monitors, lots of memory, processor power, and big hard drives. There is something to be said for people, like executives, who do need a certain cool factor. This is where the "senior people get awesome machines" comes in. I get it, and as long as everyone else has machines that can get the job done, then who cares if some folks have really awesome laptops.
Be a little flexibleOne of the times I went around proper channels to get the machine I needed was when I was developing websites within a new part of marketing. In this (rather large) company, art departments could get Macs because they were creative departments who worked with agency files, which were all on Macs too. But since I wasn't technically in a creative department I couldn't get a Mac. Didn't matter that I needed to work with the creative departments to get graphics or that I needed to do my own graphic creation...not a designer, so no Mac. So we dipped into discretionary budget and bought a couple Macs outside of IT. Never on the books as an asset, but we got what we needed to do our jobs.
Not the best way to solve the problem.
The better solution would have been for IT to be more flexible in how it allocates technology. Here is my own situation that makes the case. I create content for Marketing, so a desktop would work for me, however I also need to work from home and (over time) present away from the office. This means that I need a laptop so I can get all that done. Since I also need to create graphics for our websites and other collateral, I need power and oomph to get that done. The solution was very simple, just give me a powerful laptop. Although I expected that I would want (heck need) to bring my Mac into the office to get things done...I haven't. I even figured I'd use my Mac when I work from home for things like, oh, writing blog posts. Nope. I'm surprisingly happy with my Windows laptop. Sure I'm still looking for alternatives to some of my favorite Mac apps, but I'm getting things done. The flexible technology options met my needs, and I got a pretty cool laptop too.
You have to have the dataI believe one of the biggest causes of BYOD is people are unhappy with the machine they have to use at work. Machines that are out of date, slow, constantly crash, or otherwise not fun to use make people grumpy. Think about it, most of us spend most of our work day (and a lot of our non-work day) using computers, tablets, and smartphones, and if the computer you have to use from 9-5 thwarts even the notion of getting work done, you are going to be frustrated. We've all had days when we'd like to chuck our laptop or desktop out the window or into the path of a bus. The problem is that even if you log lots of help desk tickets to get things fixed, it's hard to match real data to anecdotal evidence that a machine is possessed by computer gremlins. It's hard to figure out which machines are truly just not cutting it any more.
Actually, it was a problem.
We developed a solution we call Microserve UX that gives you that very data. You can look at a glance and see (and show) that the VP who had to have the best and most powerful laptop barely uses a quarter of its power while the developers trying to crank out code to run the business are struggling to get things done with machines that are under-powered and crash-prone. You can see which machines are causing the most problems for people, and most importantly, why there is a problem. Is the machine behind on updates? Was an unauthorized program installed that is conflicting with other programs or draining resources? Is the machine just at the end of its usable life span? Microserve UX lets you see your entire technology fleet and where the issues are. Once you know about the issues, then you're more than halfway to solving them.
It's a love-hate thingMost people, even us techies, exist in a love-hate relationship with technology. We need it more and more every day to work and manage our lives, but more and more often technology gets in the way of getting things done instead of helping us. Working through the reasons people feel they want to bring their own machines to work can tell you how you can solve those problems and improve workplace technology for everyone.
If you'd like to learn how you can amp up or just kick start technology in your office, email us and we'll get the ball rolling.
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