Should CIOs Allow Workers To Use Their Own Devices?

CIOs are searching for ways to make employees feel empowered
CIOs are searching for ways to make employees feel empowered
Image Credit: transmediale

One of the biggest issues that CIOs have been facing over the past few years has been the question regarding what to do about worker’s personal technology. The people who work for us have been making major investments in mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. These devices are what they use almost nonstop when they are out of the office. CIOs often require workers to put these devices away and use only company authorized equipment when they are working. However, is this the right thing for us to be doing?


Many CIOs still resist the idea of allowing staff to use personal electronic devices at work (Bring Your Own Device – BYOD) or install apps of their own choosing on company devices. However, a recent study suggests those policies may be misguided. A study was performed that set out to look at what happens when employees supplement their employer-issued IT tools with their own consumer technology. The results of the study were that employees reported feeling significantly more empowered and more in control, and they said their work improved, compared with employees who used just the company tools. The study was able to identify a strong correlation between respondents’ feelings of IT empowerment and their perceptions of their own innovativeness.

It’s important for CIOs to understand that this study was a small study – only 160 employees were interviewed. However, the observations are worth noting given that more CIOs are allowing their employees to use their own devices and applications at work – or are at least thinking about doing so – especially in the wake of the pandemic when so many people have worked at home. We need to realize that IT empowerment is real. CIOs can empower people with IT in the workplace.

What The Study Shows

The data was collected four years ago as part of more comprehensive research into the impact that consumer-originated technologies can have on businesses. On average, back then roughly 26% of respondents said they were not allowed to use consumer IT within their organization; 26% said consumer IT was tolerated; 25% said only some consumer IT was allowed; and 22% said they worked in an environment where the use of consumer IT was explicitly permitted. The percentage of people allowed by CIOs to use their own technology in their work today is likely much higher given the number of people who have worked at home during the pandemic.

As CIOs weigh the pros and cons of allowing personal devices and applications at work, they should be mindful of the potential productivity benefits. The study suggested that IT policies that permit workers to access new tools and technologies, whether they are supplied by the company or the employees themselves, could encourage innovative work behaviors and increase their worker’s productivity.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs have a lot of different decisions that they have to be making. One of the most important is just exactly how they want to go about equipping the company’s workers with the IT technology that they need to accomplish their jobs. Traditionally the company has taken on the responsibility of making sure that each worker has what they need to connect and be successful. However, workers have started to purchase their own products and now they want to bring these devices to work and use them there. Should CIOs permit this?

Traditionally CIOs had been hesitant to permit workers to use their own personal devices to perform work related tasks. However, when the pandemic struck and everyone found themselves at home with no IT department on site to support them, more and more workers started to use their personal devices for everything. A study has been performed that has looked at the impact of allowing workers to use their own personal IT devices. The results of the study have shown that workers want to use their own devices. Additionally, productivity goes up when this is permitted. More data is required to fully study this issue, but clearly workers are trying to tell CIOs that they want to have the flexibility to use their own devices to accomplish work tasks.

Change is something that every CIO has to learn to live with. Our original position where we pushed back when people wanted to use their own devices at work was probably a good idea then for a variety of security and other reasons. However, with the pandemic and other changes, perhaps our original position no longer is the right position to be taking. We need to once again take a close look at what is going to work best for the company’s workers. If we can make workers happier and boost productivity at the same time, then we just might have found a win-win solution to the BYOD question.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How should the security issue be handled for personal devices that are being used for work tasks?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Being a CIO today is definitely a real challenge. The world seems to be moving faster than it ever has before and between pandemics and hiring challenges, it seems as though a CIO’s work is never done. However, if there is one thing that a CIO understands, it’s that everything changes. This, of course, means that we have to change. However, we have to make sure that we understand what is coming our way so that we know how to change correctly.