Study Explores the Bring-Your-Own-Device Approach in a Remote Work World

With the pandemic creating a more remote-centric workforce, it makes sense that technology has become more important than ever for employees. With that said, some employees prefer certain computers or types of equipment over others, and employer-provided tech can at times create roadblocks for some employees who might not be used to working with what they’re given.

This has given way to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach in the workplace, which allows employees to use devices of their choosing for work. Some use their personal laptop, while others choose tablets, phones, or a combination of both. While it makes sense that employees should have the option to work remotely in the most comfortable and productive way, this approach has concerned some employees primarily on the basis of security and safety regarding information and data.

To get a sense of what the BYOD trend looks like in the current remote work world, Beyond Identity surveyed 1,013 current employees whose perspectives and experiences varied when it comes to workplace technology.

Choosing Devices

Interestingly, the Beyond Identity study showed that while – unsurprisingly – laptops and desktop computers were the primary device used for remote work (96.7% of respondents said they use one), smartphones weren’t far beyond. Specifically, 66% of respondents said they used a smartphone for work. Just 24.4% said they used a tablet, and 5.7% said they used an e-reader. Overall, employees used 2.5 devices for work, on average.

When it comes to using personal devices versus work-issued ones, a majority of respondents (49.6%) said they used work-issued devices only, while 36.1% said they used a combination of work-issued and personal devices. Just 14.4% said they only used their own personal devices for working remotely. This begs the question, though, of whether employers are requiring their employees to use work-issued devices despite remote setups. Notably, responses were pretty even with both answers: 50.3% said their employer gives them a choice between work-issued or personal devices, while 49.7% said they weren’t given an option.

The issue of preference is one that most respondents were united on. Nearly 81% of people surveyed said they preferred to have separate devices for work and personal use, while 19.3% said they preferred one device for everything.

Safety and Security

Naturally, security has become a major concern for employers in the remote work landscape. Securing devices has become easier as technology advances, but employers are understandably worried about securing data and information outside of the office. As a result, many have implemented policies relating to securing personal devices that are used for work. The study saw 51% of respondents confirming that their employer has a policy regarding security for personal devices at work. Almost 38% said that their employer doesn’t have a specific security policy, and 11.1% said they were unsure about it.

Securing devices can be a costly measure to take, though some employers will invest in paying for security on devices depending on whether they’re work-issued or personal. Roughly 85% of respondents said their employer pays for work-issued devices only, while 15.2% said their employer didn’t pay to secure work-issued devices. A bit over 76% said that their employer paid to secure work-issued and personal devices, while 49% said their employer paid only to secure their personal device.

Some of the most common measures taken to secure devices were, perhaps unsurprisingly, passwords and antivirus software. Specifically, 83% of respondents secured both work-issued and personal devices with passwords, while 57.2% used passwords for just their personal devices, and 73.2% used them only for work-issued devices. Nearly 79% of respondents used antivirus software for both work-issued and personal devices.

VPNs (virtual private networks) were less common but have certainly become more prominent in the remote landscape, with 51.1% of respondents saying they used one for both work-issued and personal devices, while 54% said they used a VPN for work-issued devices only.

Trusted Brands Among Employers

A common issue when it comes to devices used for work versus personal use is the issue of brands. We live in a society where a large percentage of people regularly use and prefer Apple devices, especially computers, but their employer might not always have the budget for such costly technology and prefer employees to use less expensive brands. Some employers, though, seemed to prefer different brands for work presumably for a variety of reasons.

That doesn’t mean that employees don’t have their preferences, though: 32.5% of respondents in the Beyond Identity survey said they prefer Apple devices, while 17% said they prefer Dell products. Over 14% showed preference for HP devices, while 7.5% opted for Lenovo and 7.2% cited Samsung. Interestingly, Microsoft and Google were brands that employees preferred less when it comes to devices – 6.9% of respondents said they preferred Microsoft-brand devices, while 5.4% preferred Google.

Personal vs. Work

Of course, employees tend to have their reasons for using personal devices at work. For some, it’s a comfort or brand preference issue, but for others it’s about having everything in one place rather than multiple devices for different uses. Where did respondents land on these reasons? Thirty-one percent said they preferred using their personal devices for work because they like having everything in one place, while 28% felt their devices are higher quality than the ones their employers provide. More than 29% said they use their personal devices because their employer doesn’t provide the devices they need to do their job.

Just 24.3% of employees said they used personal devices for reasons relating to brand preference, while 22.6% said they feel that their work-issued devices lack the functionality needed for productivity.

The COVID-19 Impact

The pandemic has impacted people’s use of technology in many ways, but for employees it has undoubtedly had an impact on their preference for personal devices, considering how fast many employers switched to remote operations at the onset of the pandemic. 58.3% of those surveyed said the pandemic has increased their use of personal devices for work, while 30.6% said the pandemic had no impact on their personal device usage at work, and 11.1% said it decreased their use. On the issue of whether their employer gave them a device stipend for work, 61.8% percent said no, while 38.2% said yes.

Ultimately, the way we use devices for work will continue to change as remote work becomes more and more common during and after the pandemic. But one thing is certain: Employees and employers have a wide variety of concerns and preferences, and the issue of technology for remote work is certainly not one size fits all.
Study Explores the Bring-Your-Own-Device Approach in a Remote Work World
BYOD: Exploring the Evolution of Work Device Practices in a New Remote-Forward Era [Survey]
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