Why technology freedom of choice cultivates more productive employees

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In past decades, people marked their identities by the kind of car they drove, the music they listened to, or the length of their hair. Today, part of who you are lies in your preferred brand of personal technology. There are the Mac adherents and Windows faithful, iPhone and Android lovers, and even some who still can’t give up their Blackberries. You know what you like, you wouldn’t want anything else, and no one’s going to tell you otherwise.

And yet for a long time, nearly all organizations mandated what kind of laptops and devices their employees could use at work. It was a technology dictatorship, where what mattered to the company – the ease and seeming efficiency of managing a single, standard platform (usually Windows) – took precedence over what employees actually liked.

I have two words for enterprises that continue to stick to this approach: Good luck.

User-centric IT

To recruit and retain top talent today, companies must recognize that a user-centric IT approach based on choice has become essential. The BYOD guerilla movement that sprang up several years ago – if you couldn't use a device of your choosing, then you would bring your own – has transformed into a mature revolution. 

More and more companies understand that empowering employees with the right technology is the best way to make them more productive and propel the business forward. IT leaders are reevaluating their services and offering catalogss of devices rather than pushing one type on employees.

The corporate world has made progress in implementing choice programs – (a recent survey conducted by Jamf found 61 percent of 480 respondents said their company has implemented such a program) – but there's still progress to be made.

Other findings in the survey reflect how technology choice is about much more than having the coolest toys. Selecting a device of choice makes employees more productive in the workplace, according to 72 percent of respondents. Choice programs are also important to the organizations' well-being, said 73 percent of respondents. Additionally, 70 percent of those without user choice said their employer should give them the right to choose the device that best enables them to do their job.

The millennial effect

Broader societal forces are (literally) at work in the shift to user-centric IT. People now expect a seamless experience between their professional and personal lives on a single device as well as a consumer-grade experience the moment they power on. Changing workplace demographics are playing a huge role too.

Millennials – adults between 18 and 34 – have surpassed Generation X and Baby Boomers to become the largest group in the American workforce, with 53.5 million workers, according to Pew Research. Millennials are unlike any previous generation. They grew up with broadband, laptops, and smart phones, are generally uncomfortable with rigid corporate edicts and want the freedom to work in the way that best suits them.

According to a PwC survey on Millennial work habits, 78 percent of young workers said access to the technology they like to use makes them more effective at work.

It should by now be ingrained in every corporate culture that user choice itself is no longer a choice but necessary for cultivating more productive and appreciative employees.

Ordering an employee to stow his or her preferred Mac at work and use a PC instead would be like telling someone who grew up playing cello to switch to violin upon joining the orchestra. 

Why HR and IT must work together

As an HR professional, I can assure you that many incoming professionals simply won’t work for a company that mandates what technology they must use. It can be a deal killer.

With a younger, more mobile workforce motivated by the best available technology, organizations must adapt their IT methods to empower users. What was once anathema for IT, such as supporting Mac devices, now must become standard practice as employees design their own experience.

Interestingly, this means that HR and IT, which traditionally have been siloed from each other and even occasionally at odds, must now be on the same page when it comes to providing employees with the right technology to make them happy and productive.

It should by now be ingrained in every corporate culture that user choice itself is no longer a choice but necessary for cultivating more productive and appreciative employees.

Matthew Raskin is Manager of Development & Training at Jamf, an Apple management company. In this role, he is responsible for helping leaders build amazing environments and remarkable people. Matthew has spent the last decade working across high-growth technology organizations that demand a focus on scaling business structure, growing people and building sustaining cultures.


I think your sort of on the right track but clearly off on what exactly is going on.

In reality the 18-35 year olds are not only into tech.. they are into sexy looking tech. They carry these things to Starbucks and other public places.. You gotta look sexy in public.
Lenovo/Dell/HP Corporate Equipment is boring looking & they shy from it do to this.. the technology inside those computers can surpass any current Macbook. They simply will put their nose up & say NO to it because of the looks.

If you give the same users the option of a Modern Macbook or a Modern Razer Blade laptop. . Which is CHEAPER & Far superior in technology to a Macbook. You will be rather surprised at how many would choose it over the Macbook. Its comes down to the looks. Plain & simple.

Now many are pure Apple Fanboi's and will pick the Macbook no matter how much better the other gorgeous windows laptop is to it in pure raw performance.

We recently opened our doors to a Choose your own Device environment. Initially we expected hundreds upon hundreds of users to switch to Macbook purely because of the cosmetics.. Many users were tired of Grandpa's old ThinkPad.. our Lenovo laptop at the time was the X200 series systems.. We decided to order a batch of X1 Carbons and put them out for users to compare. 80% of the users decided to stay windows because the X1 Carbon was sleek & sexy. The other 20% were mostly Apple Fanboi's who couldn't wait to go Apple.

We are now debating on rolling out Razer Blade's as an option to the Hundreds of young developers who switched to Mac 3-4 years ago. Because of the sleek sexy look it has & the fact that Macs have tripled to quadrupled our support tickets for each of these users. Apple & JAMF is great but not good enough. We are spending TONS of money on Apple Hardware & Front End Support just to make users happy.. Finding anyway to reduce those costs so we can do more with less is ideal. Even if it means dangling a sexy gaming laptop in front of them. save us a few hundred per computer & untold amounts of man hours our IT spends supporting them on Apple.

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