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BRACKNELL, UK: A new type of secret saboteur is emerging in Britain’s workplace, according to research announced this week. Over one quarter of UK employees have deliberately sabotaged or been tempted to sabotage their company mobile device and 14% of workers have actually become “device destructors”, according to research commissioned by Panasonic Toughbook. Sales and marketing and IT managers are the most likely offenders in the workplace and the key reason for the abuse is the embarrassment of using an out of date device or frustration with their laptop or mobile.

The survey, which questioned more than 500 British employees, found that 27% of workers had deliberately or been tempted to sabotage their work mobile devices by damaging or losing them. A key reason for the abuse stems from 38 per cent of British employees who having “negative feelings” for their work-owned technology, with 30% stating they would rather use their own device. 9% admit they are embarrassed to use the work-owned device they have been given, 7% say the devices are difficult to use and 6% simply say they hate them.

First impressions count

When it comes to form factor, 36% of the sample were critical of the look and feel of the work-owned mobile devices they currently use, especially those aged 18-44, junior and middle managers, those in sales and marketing and IT and data management. 18% described them as being old and out of date, while 17% described them as looking dull and boring. Moreover, 11% said their work-owned mobile device was ugly and lacked style. Not surprisingly, there is a correlation between those who have either deliberately or accidentally damaged their devices, and those with a negative attitude.

“We are very surprised at the number of employees who admitted to being tempted to sabotage their work laptops and mobiles, but even more staggered by the number of people who had actually done it,” said Jan Kaempfer, Marketing Director of Panasonic Computer Product Solutions. “It demonstrates the depth of feeling from people when they are given generic devices for work that are simply not fit for purpose.”

Accidental damage

This apathy for company property also seems to translate to high levels of accidental damage. In the past three years, collectively 42% of employees who use a work-owned device have had accidents with them. Nearly a quarter (23%) have dropped them or knocked them to the floor, 13% have spilled water on the device, while 5% have seen their devices emerged in water (e.g. in a pool, the sea, a river, sink, bath or in a puddle). 12% have suffered from screen breakage. Absentmindedness was a problem for 12% of the sample, who actually lost their work-owned mobile device.

Carefully does it

97% of the sample questioned had both a work-owned and a personal device. The bad news for UK PLC is that when it comes to looking after them, only 8% of people look after their company property more carefully than their own device.

BYOD not the answer

In an effort to meet the desires of workers who wish to use their own personal device in the workplace, many organisations are rushing headlong into adopting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture. However, Panasonic believes this is likely to be a false economy as the security and management headaches that surround BYOD have been well documented.

Jan Kaempfer at Panasonic concluded: “This research shows that workers, in particular younger, more tech-savvy workers, are frustrated by the devices they are being given by their employers because they are either not ‘fit for purpose’ or are simply out of date with the latest functionality that Generation Y is accustomed to using.”

“Bring Your Own Device is not the solution, businesses should be concentrating on “Buying the Right Device”. With the increasingly wide range of business-ready, rugged tablets. laptops and mobile devices on the market, organisations should be looking to provide employees with the most appropriate device for their specific role; allowing the IT team to maintain standardised security and management across the organisation while giving the workforce the best tools for the job.”