Bring your own device (BYOD) could cause more harm than good if the company implementing it fails to establish rules for their employees' work-life balance.

That warning came loud and clear from some big names at CommunicAsia on Thursday, including Vodafone, Microsoft, and Google, among others.

"There is a compulsion these days to constantly check your phone, and there is need to make sure you don't cause burnout," said Matias Heilala, head of strategy for Asia and Africa at Vodafone Global Enterprise.

Google has a staff policy of not sending any form of work message to a colleague during a weekend, explained Ricky Kapur, managing director, Asia, at Google Enterprise.

"A lot of people who work for us feel happy about sending messages on the weekend because its their choice of work-life balance," he said. "What they don't always appreciate is that it might cause stress for the person they're sending it to. I think that's finally dawned on the culprits."

Others take a slightly different approach.

"We have permission to send [work] messages in our own time," said Jason Lim, general manager of Microsoft's Windows business group. However, the recipient is under no obligation to reply, he said.

It's a similar situation at SAP, said Manik Narayan Saha, CIO of the company's Asia Pacific and Japan division.

"There is a mutual respect established between working time and personal time," he explained. "How you choose to use your own device is a personal choice. If you wake up and the first thing you want to do is check your work email that's fine but it's your choice."

Still, getting work tasks done outside of normal office hours seems to be one of the biggest single productivity drivers of BYOD.

According to Heilala, Chinese vendor Huawei measured the productivity of employees who bring their own devices over a period of five years and found they spent on average an extra 40 minutes per day on work tasks.

Similarly, chip maker Intel's 17,000 U.S. staff who use their own device spend a combined 1.6 million more hours per year being productive, he claimed.

Nonetheless, employers still need to be clear about work-life balance when they implement their BYOD strategy.

"What should be a productivity driver could become a productivity destroyer," Heilala warned.
 

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