The static vs. mobile device: 5 factors to consider

Modern talent pools are diverse, and everyone has different needs when it comes to an engaging, holistic work environment. In the digital age full of modern conveniences, mobile device usage is becoming expected and is cranking out workforce benefits.

For modern talent, mobile devices aren’t just complimentary tools. In many cases, they’ve become a primary platform for productivity and collaboration. IDC reports that 75 percent of internal applications in enterprises will be configured primarily for mobile devices. As habits change and technology improves, mobile capabilities have few limitations.

Adoption of mobile in the workforce and in personal life continues to soar, and IT decision makers are faced with deciding which devices to assign to employees. Research and consumer trends expert Carolina Milanesi believes that many of us won’t need a desktop in the future—many of us have already moved on.

To enable productivity and end-user satisfaction, IT leaders should consider the pros and cons of mobile versus static devices in the workplace.

1. Support costs

For organizations that opt for a combined approach to device assignment, including a mixture of mobile and static devices or bring-your-own-device (BYOD), there can be additional IT costs incurred for the loss of what MSI Data calls “no uniform end-user support.” Instead of being able to take a uniform approach to security updates, patching, and user response, your support team’s effort may be split across multiple devices. This can raise costs and incur additional training requirements for support reps.

2. User satisfaction

User satisfaction is critical. Studies show that for many modern workers, mobility isn’t just convenient—it’s a priority. ADP reports that 77 percent of modern workers feel positively about a future where they “do all work from a mobile device.” However, only 25 percent believe that trend is materializing today. Giving your employees the option to use the devices they feel are the best fit for their work style could lead to increases in productivity, satisfaction, and device familiarity.

3. Security

Even if your organization will be using company-issued devices as opposed to BYOD, there can be an increase in security risks. Additional IT resources may need to be dedicated to the management and mitigation of the following risk factors:

  • Data tracking challenges
  • Lack of mobile-specific security planning
  • Mobile-specific employee education
  • Access and acceptable use definition
  • Lack of governance framework

4. Productivity gains

Broader mobile device adoptions could have a positive net impact on your organization’s bottom line. CIO Insight reports that the average employee gains nine hours per week of productivity when they’re permitted to work primarily or partially from smartphones, tablets, wearables, or related technology. Around 95 percent of employees believe their quality of work has improved due to mobile access. Some of these benefits can be attributed to user familiarity with mobile platforms, but the real benefit is probably pragmatic. Mobile devices can improve collaboration and access, even when employees aren’t physically located at their desk.

5. Compliance risks

Mobile devices can blur boundaries, leading to riskier concerns than a loss of work-life balance. Your organization could be at risk of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if your hourly employees check email outside scheduled shifts. While compliance risks are best discussed with your organization’s legal counsel, making the switch to mobile devices can require collaboration between IT and other departments. Updates to acceptable use policies and other procedural documents could be a necessary precursor to broader adoption of mobile devices.

For many IT decision makers, the convenience of a uniform approach to static device assignment has become a thing of the past. Today’s employees may require—or demand—mobile access based on position, responsibilities, or preference. While a mixed approach to mobile versus static device assignment can place governance, compliance, and support demands on IT teams, the pros outweigh the cons.

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