BYOD Failure – Five Big Reasons Why Employees Don’t Want To Use Their iPhones, iPads At Work


Not everyone is ready to jump on the BYOD bandwagon
Not everyone is ready to jump on the BYOD bandwagon

Yesterday, we covered a report that asked whether or not most people really want the option to bring their own technology into the office. That report showed that despite the media hype and the broad interest that CIOs and IT leaders are showing in BYOD programs, it may only be one out of every five employees that’s clamoring for the right to bring their personal iPad or iPhone into the office.

If that’s the case, why are so many users hesitant or even hostile to the BYOD model?

The reasons may vary depending on personal preferences and the corporate culture of an employer, but there are some universal concerns that users have when it comes to BYOD.

IT may restrict access to certain features – This is probably the biggest concern that employees have. With mobile device management still being a cornerstone of most mobility initiatives, many companies will require their employees to add personal devices to the chosen MDM service and install a service agent on their device. That will mean letting IT dictate on-device policies. This can be as basic as requiring a passcode to unlock the device or it can go much further. The iOS MDM capabilities allow IT to block access to the App Store, use of the camera, the ability to play content tagged as explicit by iTunes, backups to iCloud, and even the use of Siri on the iPhone 4S to name just a handful of restrictions. After spending the money on a new iPad, those restrictions can be a bitter pill to swallow.

The possibility of immediate remote wipe – The ability to remotely wipe all data from a lost or stolen device is a key security feature for IT. It was one of the first enterprise features added to the iPhone along with Exchange support in 2008. For users, however, there may be a fair amount of personal content on an iPhone or iPad that hasn’t been backed up. This can be photos and movies, Garageband projects, personal emails, game progress, and almost anything else. Knowing that someone can all delete that content at will can be a little unnerving and no one wants to report an iPhone lost only to find it wedged between the couch cushions and wiped of all data a few minutes later.

It’s worth noting that one solution discussed at last month’s CITE conference was the idea of “remote lock before remote wipe” in which IT departments will immediately lock a device when it’s reported missing but will wait a little while (three hours or less seemed a common timeframe) before wiping the device to give the owner some time to try locating it.

Concern that IT might snoop on personal data – Another big concern is whether or not IT will look at personal data on a managed device. This may actually be a bigger fear than is warranted in many cases. MDM solutions don’t typically let administrators dig into personal emails or photos or watch the on the screen of an iPad remotely, though employees might not realize that. Even so, MDM monitoring capabilities do let IT see details like the apps installed, device name and hardware details, and how much free space is available – things that a user might not feel comfortable sharing.

Potential increased personal expenses – Depending on the organization and BYOD parameters, users may find themselves with out of pocket expenses related to using their device for work. The most obvious ways are in the cost of apps and in the cost of 3G/4G data use. A robust BYOD program may include apps that are paid for by the company using Apple’s Volume Purchase Plan or a reimbursement system. That isn’t guaranteed, however, and even where it occurs, users may find that apps outside of the ones provided by an employer are better solutions. A bigger concern for mobile professionals is the cost of calls and data associated with work.  The cost of data is usually a bigger concern because of i’s greater overall cost and the fact that it isn’t really feasible to break out work data use and submit it as an expense.

Encouragement to work outside of business hours – Probably one of the biggest reasons to avoid a BYOD program is the desire to maintain a healthy work/life balance. BYOD programs do blur the line between home and office and that can include working on projects or fielding calls and emails during off hours. Avoiding using a personal device is one way for employees to make it clear that they aren’t willing to take their work life home with them.

If a company is truly interested in pursuing a BYOD initiative, then IT leaders and management need to consider these reasons that staff might not want to participate and develop ways to address them.

  • Phathom

    The major reason is: having to provide said support to other users who have company bought devices and they refuse to purchase you one, but you still have to support everyone because you have one, and you spent your hard earned money and time to learn it on your own off hours, and abuse your knowledge without you getting anything in exchange for it.

  • Beacher

    1. Additional “free” work hours, when away from work.
    2. No total reimbursement for loss, damage, (only a percentage, because it’s personal property afterall).
    3. No “non-work” related activity legally allowed on device if used for work, (but it’s always done anyway).
    4. Remote data wipe.

    Those are the four biggies! Insist that your company purchase the hardware that you use for work at the time of employment. If they don’t/won’t, take another job!

    If you are in a position to hire/interview I.T. personnel, only consider those that support the hardware that you want to use, (not only what they have training certificates for) !!!

  • FriarNurgle

    How about the fact most corporate IT workers are just drones (no offense) and have no idea how to manage these other devices or the company doesn’t want to pay money to have them trained/licensed.

  • Jdsonice

    In my opinion, even if BYOD is possible, it is a bad idea. You want to do a BYOD for work – get a second phone or iPad but don’t mix your personal technology with company technology.

    What if you have say racy pictures on your device – can you be fired for having them on your “work” device?

    How do you distinguish between data used for work and play?

    What if you 3 year kid gets hold of your device and starts mailing out your personal photos, calendar and movies to your office mailing list?

    There are so many questions i.e. land mines here.

    Keep your work and personal life separate. Do not mix them.

  • datooab

    Ryan, most good mobile management solutions have something akin to a selective wipe, which is just wiping corporate data but leaving personal pics, videos, music, and apps on the device. That way a misplaced device if found will still have a user’s personal content on it.

    Zenprise, Inc

  • marco7

    This has happened to me. After adding my work (Exchange) account to my iPhone with absolutely no tech support (iPhone is “allowed” but not “supported”) it suddenly needed a passcode and The Company now has the ability to remote wipe my phone. Every time I need my phone for something urgent and have to first unlock it, I curse those IT bastards. At least now I have a new reason…

  • ejohnsen255

    A good article Ryan, and the concerns of employees about their personal data being accessed by IT departments is a real concern for many.

    At the hospital I work at, we have the burden of meeting HIPAA requirements, particularly since many doctors send and receive patient info via text messaging on thier BYOD phones.

    This opens the hospital to HIPAA related lawsuit if the doctor loses their phone or it is hacked. If we are inflexable, then the doctors will not be able to handle as many patients, since texting patient info speeds things up.

    In order to deal with the issue, we got the doctors to use Tigertext, which deletes the text messages after a period of time, making it HIPAA compliant.

    I don’t know if this is the best solution for everyone, but it was an easy and cost effective way to deal with this issue. It was added to the IT departments responsbilities, but once the departments business objectives where redefined on this issue, they were able to handle it better.

    The BYOD issues that IT departments are dealing with are only going to become more complex in the future and your article raised some important points.

    I also found this article on BYOD that adds to your article with some additional charts and findings: