Addicted to your smartphone? These days, your boss may be OK with that. As recently as last year, less than a third of companies allowed employees to use their smartphones on the job. Now almost half do. But if you’re using your personal devices for both business and pleasure, you could end up in a real mess.
Back in the olden days, if you needed to use a phone or a computer for work, your company would provide it. But these days, that’s changing. The Wall Street Journal reports that small companies (those with fewer than 500 employees) are especially likely to approve professional use of personal gadgets. After all, it saves them money on technology and training. One San Diego consulting firm, for example, recently reduced its hardware IT budget from $20,000 a year to $3,000 because 18 of 24 employees now simply use their own devices.
There’s an obvious advantage for workers, too. No more juggling a work BlackBerry and personal iPhone if it’s all one one device. Less lugging and schlepping, less “Oh, crap, I left it on my work computer.”
But what if you leave your phone at a bar? What if you get a virus that compromises sensitive company info? What if you spread that virus to your whole company, as happened to a small firm in the Journal’s story? Are you burning through your device’s lifetime at a faster rate by using it for multiple purposes? And what if you’re fired? Can your company wipe your laptop afterwards?
Despite these potential problems, it’s a risk many small companies are willing to take because of the huge cost savings. In 2009, less than 15% of small companies allowed workers to use personal devices for work. Now almost half do. It’s another piece of evidence that the boundaries between the personal and the professional are blurring, for better or for worse.