Bring your own device to work: innovative or destructive?

It’s new, it’s hip, and it’s even got its own acronym. BYOD, or “bring your own device,” is transforming the business world. With BYOD, you can combine work and home technologies; any personal smartphone, computer, or iPad, can now moonlight as a work device, allowing you to stay plugged in beyond the 9 to 5.

It’s an easy formula. Employees are able to utilize the technology they’re most comfortable with, and companies don’t have to foot the bill. As a result, employees can be expected to be perpetually available to ever-increasing workplace demands.

Tonie Chaltas, a Toronto-based chief operating officer of public relations firm Hill & Knowlton Canada, describes the BYOD movement as an anticipated necessity. Today’s world of constantly advancing technology, she says, is creating customers who expect faster results. And the BYOD phenomenon is just the key to achieve this.

In a recent survey by Cisco IBSG, employees saved an average of 37 minutes per week by using their personal devices. In the countries with the highest productivity gain, BYOD resulted in employees “working more efficiently and being more available to their colleagues and managers.”

But is there a problem with having your work and personal lives collide?

Two words: electronic leash. Workplace consultant Graham Lowe found that while this trend can create a better chance to complete work, people are more likely to generate an unhealthy attachment to their jobs. If an employee has her work phone on her at all times, she’s — at the very least psychologically — always on the clock.

Work is there when you wake up, when you drive to the office, when you sit through a lunch meeting, and when you eat dinner with your family. This behaviour is no doubt consuming and exhausting.

There’s nothing wrong with work; on the contrary, humans were made for it. God created Adam with the intention that he would live in the garden and care for it. Producing, creating, building, cultivating: we are meant for these things. And there is incredible value in doing something wholeheartedly. Giving 100 per cent in our work is something that pleases God.

But when work starts to take over your life — your relationships, your identity, your very existence — that’s when it becomes a problem.

Leviticus 23:3 says, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.”

Rest — Sabbath — reminds us of who God is, His creation, and what He has done for us. It’s a way for us to remember that God should be at the centre of our lives. And it gives us the rest and space we need from the stresses that our work lives so often bring.

Understanding Sabbath, healthy work-life boundaries, and what it looks like to fully rest in God means setting limits on when and how long we use our electronics. So let’s start our own trend: DBYOD — Don’t Bring Your Own Device! Or at the very least, resist the temptation to check those work emails during dinner.

Originally published in Issue 21 of Converge Magazine.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Jonathan Velasquez.