ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick writes about a cash strapped state agency requiring employees to use their own smart phones without reimbursing t.... Red flags went up in my mind as I read about it – especially the part about employees not being reimbursed. However, upon careful reflection, I realized that this is a pattern that has evolved over the years and such steps are a long time coming. With the explosion of devices and data and practical concerns about security, we are giving more importance to the concept of bringing your own device than we did to similar concepts in the past.
So, join me as I travel through the years identifying such conceptual patterns of behavior:
- PYOD. Provide your own Desk. My grandfather brought home tons of paper work when working the legal system in his geography as an officer of the court. He would carefully browse through the fine print and legalese sitting at his desk. This was a desk that was out-of-bounds for us grandchildren at that time. In other words, my grandfather was providing his own desk for his employer. PYOD.
- UYOE. Use your own equipment. My father's work hours were 9 to 5 in general and once he was home, he was home. He would spend time with us and engage in non-work related personal activities of interest. I have rarely seen him bring paper work home. On the other hand, he would get the occasional phone call late in the evening or on weekends about a work related matter. The very act of using the phone at that time was a case of the employee using their own equipment for communication purposes. UYOE.
- SYOW. Setup your own workspace. I remember setting up my laptop and printer to start connecting from home over a dialup line, which eventually graduated to higher speeds and a corporate VPN connection. It was an alternative work location that could be used in exceptional circumstances for off-hours usage. I was still expected to be physically present within the employer's physical premises during work hours. SYOW.
- EYOH. Extend your own home. As we evolved to a more virtualized and globalized world, the concept of a formalized home office set in. We set aside a portion of our residence to accommodate a secluded area with the least interruptions. In other words, a portion of our residence was extended to be formally treated as the “office.” You as the employee would still paid for the utilities for that work area. Employers were initially paying for the connectivity, which slowly started to fade away as well. EYOH.
- BYOD. Enter Mobility and smart phones. Your physical presence was no longer tied to your residence or your workplace. Your device is available 24x7 and therefore, you are as well – if you choose to. The location of your device defines your presence. Having the device at work positions you better to do work related activities, just like it does when you are at home. Thus, BYOD is a case of you bringing your virtual "home" to the work environment rather than taking the "work environment" home as it used to be in the past. It certainly blurs the boundaries between work and home. BYOD.
Proliferation of such devices and the behavioral patterns of employees prompt employers like the one that McKendrick references to accept the reality and take the step of making it a de-facto standard without any reimbursement. Just like my grandfather not being reimbursed for PYOD, my father for UYOE, me for SYOW or EYOH.
But is BYOD really just BYOD? Employers requiring employees to use their own smart phones for work-related purposes without reimbursement is really an endorsement of the employee Configuring their own Ecosystem (CYOE) – whether it be an ecosystem of your colleagues and peers at work or your acquaintances in your personal life. We have been switching back and forth between different ecosystems for years now. Technology is enabling us to do this at a much higher frequency today.
What are other acronyms you can think of like BYOD? Where do you think we are headed in the future? What are some of your experiences as you look back into your past? I would be interested to know.
Of course, every now and then, we do need to diligently engage in MYOB – minding your own business.