When mobile devices first arrived for consumers, organizations introduced bring your own device (BYOD) programs in an attempt to accommodate these new tools in the workplace. Over time, this model evolved at many organizations to “choose your own device,” allowing users to work with the smartphones and tablets they’re most comfortable with, while also enabling IT teams to have more standardization and control.

Mobile computing is still evolving, but today, forward-thinking organizations are placing their emphasis less on the device, and more on the overall user experience. This approach transcends technology and attempts to account for where, how and even why users work – giving them a wide range of options and fostering a results-oriented environment.

It’s called choose your own workstyle (CYOW).

Creating a Seamless User Experience

While no single defined set of IT solutions makes up CYOW, the model is characterized by the ability to deliver a consistent, seamless work experience regardless of where users happen to be. Mobile workers have often had to contend with technology solutions that weren’t quite on par with the tools available to them in the office. For example, a user might have been able to access work files or submit expenses from home, but only after logging in via a clunky virtual private network (VPN) connection. Or, a user might have been able to join an online meeting from the road, but wouldn’t have been able to use a tablet to share slides.

Increasingly, these sorts of half-measures are becoming unacceptable. Users – and in particular, millennials – have grown accustomed to the seamless productivity of consumer devices and apps in their day-to-day lives, and they expect a similar experience at work. From a business perspective, organizations that don’t invest in CYOW-enabling tools are missing an opportunity to make their users not only happier, but also more productive.

Improving Employee Retention

According to Gartner, organizations that support a CYOW culture will boost employee retention rates by more than 10 percent by the year 2020. Gartner also notes that millennials are 14 percent more likely to use their own applications to collaborate with colleagues than older workers are, and warns that organizations will suffer from an inability to attract high-impact talent if they fail to accommodate a “great variety” of workstyles.

Done well, a CYOW program can boost employee engagement levels, which translates to higher employee retention rates. Workforce issues repeatedly rank in the top three business priorities for CEOs, according to research by Gartner, and retention and engagement are considered critical for business success.

Once companies facilitate remote access, teleconferencing and collaboration solutions, they often turn their attention to applications, data and processes that are specific to various lines of business. Again, the goals of these efforts aren’t necessarily tied to the number or type of devices that employees use, but rather to the sort of flexibility that companies can offer to their users. When provided with tools that allow them to be as productive outside the office as they are inside it, knowledge workers often work more efficiently, and for more hours, than they did before.

Organizations want more productivity out of their employees. In many cases, employees are happy to put in extra work, as long as they’re given a way to do that work in a time, place and manner that fits their lifestyle.

That’s a trade that just about any organization should be willing to make.

To learn more about how CDW’s solutions and services support a choose your own workstyle environment, visit CDW.com/collaboration