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Does BYOD Boost Productivity?

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The majority of federal employees want their agencies to implement a policy that allows them to use their own devices for work, with many arguing that doing so will lead to cost savings and improved productivity, according to a new survey by GovLoop and Cisco.

The survey of 108 GovLoop members found that 62 percent of respondents believe a bring your own device, or BYOD, policy would be desirable or extremely desirable at their agency. At the same time, only 20 percent of respondents indicated that their agency has implemented such a policy.

Still, many respondents indicated that despite their agency’s lack of a BYOD policy, they still use personal devices such as smartphones for work purposes. They use their personal phones for email (41 percent); social networking (21 percent); entering time, expenses and business functions (13 percent); and reading and writing (30 percent). The majority said they do not use their personal tablets for work purposes.

In addition, respondents were nearly split on whether the government should provide a device to employees. Fifty-six percent said the government should provide devices to employees, while 44 percent said the government does not need to provide devices. 

Respondents noted several benefits of implementing BYOD policies at agencies. Among them was allowing people to work on the devices they find most comfortable (71 percent), improved productivity (58 percent) and cost savings (55 percent).

“One of the benefits is that if a person is very proficient on a device, they should take that proficiency into the workplace, rather than learning how to be minimally proficient with the government-provided device,” said Kimberly Hancher, chief information officer at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in the report. “I can’t overemphasize how important personal productivity is across the enterprise.”

While federal agencies are not required to implement a BYOD policy, the White House in August released a toolkit for expanding BYOD and other mobility options for employees, citing benefits such as improved productivity and work-life balance among employees.

The majority of respondents to GovLoop’s survey also agreed that BYOD policies could provide additional benefits to agencies in terms of recruiting and retaining workers. Fifty-six percent of respondents said that a BYOD policy could serve as a retention and recruitment tool, with some noting that it would demonstrate that agencies are forward-thinking and efficient, particularly to the Millennial workforce and teleworkers.

Still, several respondents noted roadblocks to BYOD implementation at their agency. The biggest roadblock was perceived to be a lack of organizational support (57 percent), followed by no IT infrastructure to support multiple devices (55 percent) and costs (19 percent). Respondents also cited security, reimbursement issues and inconsistent IT policies as other roadblocks to BYOD implementation.

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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