A study from CompTIA, the ICT trade association, shows that half of British companies do not allow employees to use any of their own devices at work, because of "a lack of resources" and "a failure to balance the needs of employees and those of the IT department".
Over half of UK companies still handle all mobile device deployment and do not allow outside devices. A very small percentage of firms (four percent) have embraced a full BYOD (bring your own device) policy, where employees provide all devices.
This low percentage is "somewhat surprising", said CompTIA, given the UK’s stronger inclination to have smartphones and tablets in their workforce as primary work devices.
The results come at a time, says CompTIA, when flexible working is growing and 60 percent of all British companies confirm their employees are required to travel.
The 2014 Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study analysed 250 companies across the UK and 400 companies in the US, questioning business and IT executives who are directly involved in setting up or executing mobility policies and processes within their organisation.
CompTIA says that 85 percent of UK companies that distribute mobile devices to employees are handing out smartphones. That’s close to the 87 percent of firms that provide laptops to employees. In addition, 63 percent of companies are giving out tablets.
“The new norm is quickly becoming one employee, three devices,” said Seth Robinson, director for technology analysis at CompTIA. “PCs, smartphones and tablets will all remain major components in the workplace for some time.”
But handling these devices, from procurement to management, is a major challenge for many organisations, said CompTIA.
Small companies are hampered by a lack of resources. For example, device integration and remote support require a combination of specialised skills, infrastructure and bandwidth a small company may not have in house.
For medium-sized firms, the fact that there are more resources to deal with creates a different set of problems. Balancing the needs of end users and the requirements of the IT department tops the list of challenges for mid-sized companies.
Integrating devices is also the top challenge for the largest firms, but the issue is one of complexity rather than lack of resources. The sheer numbers of employees and devices makes integration a much greater undertaking. The same is true for support.
The CompTIA study suggests the development of organisation-wide mobility policies is somewhat behind the adoption of mobile devices.
Among UK companies, 28 percent currently have a formal mobility policy in place, 31 percent are currently building a policy, only 24 percent share with their employees best practices to follow, and 16 percent have no set policy or practices in place.
“Policy formation is an important step in building a mobility plan that aligns with business objectives,” Robinson said. “By drawing various lines of business together and discussing the business requirements along with any IT concerns, companies can set priorities and establish procedures for addressing issues as changes are needed.”
UK firms see slightly more employees working full time from home than in the US (11 percent versus percent percent). There is an even greater difference in employees who split their time between a home office and a physical company location (25 percent versus 15 percent in the US).
When it comes to business travel, there is a much larger contrast. UK firms estimate that 60 percent of their employees have some travel, compared to 47 percent of employees at US firms.